Home – Anticipation, Experience & Remembrance
Custer, South Dakota
HOME - ANTICIPATION, EXPERIENCE & REMEMBRANCE
I've forgotten when and where, but awhile back I heard about a study where happiness levels of participants were measured at three moments in time - before a vacation (as they anticipated it), during the vacation (as they experienced it) and after the vacation (as they remembered it). The results baffled the scientists. The time when people were least happy was when they were experiencing the vacation. Anticipating the vacation and remembering the vacation both rated higher on the happiness scale.
A vacation is different from a sabbatical and individual happiness is certainly not the ultimate goal of Christianity, but I've been thinking a lot about this study since I returned home after being away for almost three months on sabbatical. It's a strange thing how we (most of the time and most of us, at least) experience time - this trinity of anticipation, experience and remembrance.
If I'm honest, my sabbatical resonates a little with this study. I've thoroughly enjoyed the planning and anticipation of this sabbatical - deciding where to go and where to stay, making hotel reservations, booking train tickets and plane tickets, buying luggage and getting a passport.
I'll also admit that there were plenty of moments on sabbatical when my "enjoyment" level was low. When you're writing a sabbatical blog you can conveniently leave out the part about losing your wallet (the one which you're pretty sure contained about a hundred Euros, two drivers licenses and a credit card).
Of course, it's stories like these that bring a smile when you remember them - especially because I can end the story by talking about how before we even got back to Custer we had our old drivers licenses replaced. On a whim we stopped at the Rapid City DMV were greeted by a friendly staff and in no more than fifteen minutes and at a cost of only twenty dollars our identity was restored - at least according to the state of South Dakota.
I don't know about you, but this is also how I experience the grace of God. With the help of the scriptures and a great cloud-like community of witnesses, it's great fun to glimpse and dream and anticipate the kin-dom of God on earth. Justice and peace. Wholeness. Shalom. Love and life eternal.
But when it comes to experiencing the grace of God, I've gotta say that I come up short. When I'm jet-lagged and hungry and sitting in a train station for four hours I can have a pretty short temper. Then again, if I'm honest it doesn't take sleep deprivation or hunger for me to say things I regret and leave things unsaid I know I should've mustered the strong vulnerability to speak.
But from the other side of life, isn't amazing how you can just about always eventually remember looking backwards all the 'travelling mercies' and rejoice with the psalmist saying (with just a little nuance in verb tense and "our" instead of "your"): "The Living God kept our going out and our coming in always."
Many thanks for all who helped me anticipate and then followed me in my sabbatical experience through the blog and other ways; for those who have remembered me and my family in their prayers this summer; for the staff of Custer Lutheran Fellowship who picked up extra work and watched over the parsonage; for those who created the sidewalk chalk message to greet us in the driveway of the parsonage; and for so many other little and big ways that you live out the kin-dom of God on earth this summer and always.
May you anticipate, experience and remember that your identity as beloved children of God can never be lost.