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Sabbath Day – Staycation

August 17, 2012

This sabbath falls in the midst of my so-called “summer vacation.” Noelle is in Chicago attending the Joining Hands world mission conference, and I stayed home with August. At least in theory I was to work on my dissertation during the day while August attended drama camp. It sort of worked.

August has had a fabulous week. He got a lead role in his musical: he is Prince Eric in The Little Mermaid. He’s very proud. He had a Long Island beach day with his best bud Christopher, an Olympics-Buffalo Wild Wings night, we went rock climbing again, he had a play date with a new friend from camp, a night with his beloved babysitter, and an afternoon and evening at Rye Playland with friends from church. He also harvested six bags of tomatoes, two cucumbers, two zucchini and a bag of beans from the GW student garden and delivered them to the Food Pantry. Next: the performance tonight!

Apart from writing, I also took a climbing class at The Cliffs so that I can continue climbing with August and belay him myself. It has been wonderful to be in the gym and touch the “athlete” part of myself again. That, at least, was the vacation part of the week.

The dissertation writing, on the other hand, has been productive, frustrating, and at points despair creating. A wise person has often told me: when you’re stuck – go back and outline. I have and am happy with the result. In the end, I think this week has been an important jump forward. I have a draft of the introduction, and more work on the first chapter. I have also sorted my remaining notes into chapters 2-4. My friends this week have been sermons by Richard of Armagh (1346) and William Taylor (1406).

What has been tremendously helpful has been a new digital memory technology called The Brain. The Brain collects “thoughts” and both graphically and relationally orders them. It’s essentially an electronic version of those many, many, versions of my notes as well as the numerous cocktail napkins and scraps of paper on which I re-order and re-shape my ideas. I picked this up a few weeks ago and it has helped me organize not only the dissertation but all sorts of work and family projects. Check it out.

The website offers a free download which, while limited, is still quite functional and will not expire. I have since updgraded to the Pro-version with cloud services. Now my thoughts, and many of my documents, are available to me anywhere I am. [for a brief moment I entertained the thought of joining Noelle and August on their “real vacation” in a few weeks, but wiser thoughts have again won out. I will keep writing].

I will return to the congregation on Sunday more exhausted than when I left a week ago. I may even have a cold. This is what I find each time I get to work on the dissertation: it is hard work, it brings with it despair (about the product) and excitment (as it comes back together), and that roller coaster is not relaxing. I both want to work on this for the rest of my life and get it over with as quickly as I can. (I’m trying to emphasize the later). I grateful for that other week of dedicated dissertating I have set aside later this month.

But I also return with great excitment for what lies ahead in the congregation. The ‘summer mission team’ is leading worship on Sunday, Presbyterian Young Adult Volunteers will lead worship the following Sunday, and many new mission and stewardship initiatives will take shape in September and October.

I look forward to ice cream and flowers with the thespian tonight.

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