I’ve finished my first week of my sabbatical. it has not been what I expected. All this week I have had pain in my mouth and jaw. I’ve been to the dentist and medical doctor. The good news, I don’t have any cavities, the bad news, I’ve been grinding my teeth. This has caused me a lot of pain and consternation. I got a plan from my doctors to get rid of the pain, but how do you stop grinding your teeth when you are not aware you are doing it? It is not something you do consciously, so how do you stop and subconscious act? This whole dilemma about the grinding of teeth is some how a metaphor for my first week’s reaction to being on sabbatical. So far I’m not very good at being on sabbatical. No retreat center and vows of silence. No 24 hours around the clock Bible reading. No visits with a spiritual director; just day to day life, but without the church activity. I don’t want to sound ungrateful, because I do appreciate what a huge gift I’ve been given. I guess it is just not the start is was expecting. Me learning to be on sabbatical is like me trying to not grind my teeth. I don’t know when I grind my teeth so I don’t know when to stop. I don’t know a life apart from the Church, so I don’t know how to stop doing church stuff, or at least thinking about doing church stuff. So much of what I do has become so second-nature to me; I don’t know what an alternative is. Some people would say I am unconscious most of the time, but the work I do in the context of the church is so much who I am, it is like I do it in a semi-conscious state. I don’t know where the “off” switch is. It will be good for me to be away. It will be good for me to operate in a different environment. One week is not the measure of my sabbatical, I know. I will find great reward from just being still, I’m sure. But for now I’m grinding my teeth and my mouth is sore. I remember some other people, delivered from captivity and not knowing how to deal with their new found liberty. They were a “stiff-necked” people who grumbled and complained to God. Did you bring us out here in this wilderness for us to perish, they asked God? God probably wanted to grind God’s teeth, but He took a deep breath, I suppose and said, give it a little time. I think I will stop grinding my teeth – however you do that!