I have been amazed at how travel can warp one’s sense of time. Because this is the first time I have ever been away from home or church for longer than a month, the last two months have both crawled and flown by. I say “crawled” because it seems like San Diego and September 4th feel so much longer ago than 8 weeks and yet I say “flown” because the time also feels like it has flown by and already, two out of three months (the first part of my five month sabbatical) are over. In this time-warp experience I have learned some things, including...
I LOVE to learn; travel isn’t very meaningful to me if I’m not learning something – either through reading, a guided tour, or on our own explorations. Learning something new about a place, a people, or how something was created gives me energy…at the end of a long day, I can walk a little farther, visit one more place if I think I’m going to learn something. Though I’ve always considered myself a student – this trip has helped me experience this aspect of who I am in a deeper way.- One of the ways I have experienced love of learning has been through the visits of the Jewish Synagogues, museums, neighborhoods and Ghettos that exist throughout our travels. In every city we have visited, we have toured and visited the Jewish area. I have always been interested in the Jewish faith, culture and people in ancient times as well as present day. How the Jewish faith has evolved and what hasn’t changed about it is important learning, I think. And because of the centuries of oppression, the ghettos, the horror of World War II that people who are Jews have endured, I have pondered again and again the fact of evil in our society and our response to it as a people of faith…a faith that says every person has worth and dignity. And I wonder if one can ever lose or give up their worth?
In the past two months we have covered thousands of miles and I have been made almost speechless by the acts of compassion and kindness by strangers and have witnessed how awful and mean we can be to one another. Time and again I have thought of Karen Armstrong’s book 12 Steps to a Compassionate Life and the urgent need we have in our human community for more kindness towards one another. When lost, in a country whose language is foreign to us, we have asked for helped and been rebuffed or told, “you want information – it’ll cost you a Euro” as well as standing in a train station at night, unable to read the one posted map and have other travelers help us get aboard the correct train, as well as many other acts of kindness that made our day. Jan and I have both made a promise to be more aware of travelers in San Diego and if they look lost, to offer help. This small act really can make a difference in someone’s experience of our city and who we are in general.
And I have learned that I can reach a saturation point – where my eyes glaze over and I simply can’t take in one more bit of information. Usually, after a good night’s sleep, I am ready for more learning; but after two months on the road, my saturation point is too full; so Jan and I are returning to San Diego a little earlier than expected so that there can be some time for quiet, for writing and reflection in a familiar place.
A gentle reminder – my sabbatical is divided into two parts; from September – November I am away. I return to church on Saturday, Dec. 1st and will be working and re-connecting with you throughout the month of December. The second part will begin in January when I leave again – traveling for most of the month visiting with other UU colleagues in large congregations to study and talk with them about program development, church organization and leadership, and other topics. In February I will spend the month putting it altogether – the travels aboard, the collegial conversations, the reading and writing and I will be creating class outlines, sermon topics, etc. I will return to First Church on March 1st ready to engage in a full and wonderful spring and summer.
See you in December,
Rev. Kathleen Owens
Editor's note: the comments below were carried over from our previous site and was originally submitted 11/3/15-1/11/13.
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