What is a Sabbatical?
The term “sabbatical” comes from the Hebrew word “shabbat” meaning “ceasing from labor.” A sabbatical taken by a professor might be used to write a book or complete a research project. In a secular setting a sabbatical could be taken to travel or for personal reasons. In religious circles a sabbatical is granted for rest and study.
Traditionally, pastors are granted a three month Sabbatical by their church every seven years. But Freshwater is not a traditional church and I am not a traditional pastor. I would not expect to be able to take three month off every seven years and am not sure I would even like it. I have a short attention span and find pleasure in what I do. Even though I have never taken more than three weeks in a row off in my 18 years of ministry, I have found that taking a brief time off over the summer has been incredibly beneficial to me and to Freshwater.
Back when sailing ships ruled the seas, sailors feared the Doldrums more than anything else. This was the most dreadful situation of all. The Doldrums refers to those parts of the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean affected by the Intertropical Convergence Zone, a low-pressure area around the equator where the prevailing winds are calm. If a ship was slightly off-course, or the Doldrums slightly shifted, a ship would sail into a dead zone where the winds simply stopped blowing. And when the winds stopped blowing, the ship stopped sailing, rendering it helpless. Sometimes ships would be stuck in the Doldrums for days and even weeks. Sailors would get depressed while floating in the middle of the ocean in a hot muggy climate. Many crews consumed their entire provisions and went on to starve to death waiting for winds that never came. If you were caught in the Doldrums and lived to tell about it, you were fortunate because many sailors never made it out alive.