Sabbatical Journal April 2008 John Calvi
There is a gearshift in this sabbatical that I am learning, though very slowly. It’s the question of reverence for the self rather than for service. I learned over many years to kick into a spiritual gear of attention for guidance and cleansing whenever work came to me either in teaching or touching. This became a second skin over time, a dance in response to another’s pain. I am slow to learn and slow to discipline, but over two and a half decades I got to a very comfortable place of spiritual weight lifting before, during, and following witness of another’s pain.
Now comes the task of removing the old stimulus, another’s pain, and keeping those disciplines of reverence for my own well-being. Can one rest the body and wash the mind and keep the strong back, head up, and careful listening for the continuing spiritual feed that comes? What is unplugged and what is not?
In receiving messages to help others, I’ve learned to listen for those parts that I need to learn in my own life. Now the whole task shifts from mutual and vicarious to sole and direct. What is being given that brings me to my brightest shining light? Can I hear this over the noise of the world, the noise in my own thinking, the clutter of life?
In this new paradigm, I think I’ve rated perhaps a C- where I used to consider myself a solid B+ student or better. As the physical body rests and my mind steps out of the traces of constant chronic tasks, as space opens and there is the time to feel what is, I can see I don’t spend enough time in wonder but am still of a task orientation. As the body rests more deeply, the mind needs more washing, the psyche pulled out of old patterns and refreshed. Mostly this used to be done via the disciplines I surrounded work with. I am having to recall and refit these disciplines without the work. And so I am having some learning, some confusion, and some trying to be patient with my own learning style, which appears most often as my brain squinting and mumbling, “huh?”
Amidst this the last of the firewood is brought in, bookkeeping for taxes done, and now I prepare to do the Beethoven Letter before stamp prices go up. Each month brings a lower gear for me to move more slowly. The stillness and quiet necessary for wonder seems to be a vital part in all this unfolding. How not to hear the noisy self? How to be at attention without the tension of a work posture? How to be given more to delight?
I try not to list everything I want to get done. But this keeps creeping in – paint the outside of the house, repair the air vents near the roof and drive out the squirrels, re-establish the vegetable garden, tear down the old wood shed, super clean the tool shed, build a stone wall to warm up the tomato patch, prune the blueberry bushes, edit a book of speeches and self-publish a book and recordings. And how will Marshall and I settle on a color to paint the downstairs of our little home? Goodness only knows!