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Like the Old Stone Church bandana affixed to my pack, I carry your prayers as a reminder of who I am, and as a way to sustain my sensitivity and compassion for you even though we are an ocean apart.

Every day I swing a 20-pound pack over my shoulders. Its filled mostly with water to hydrate me for a long day of walking, I’ve got a small first aid kit in my pack, too. I also carry a few other things like a change of socks, a raincoat, and Nordic walking poles to help me up the steep climbs of Spain’s coastal mountains and to maneuver down rocky river beds into valleys and across small streams. But I carry something far more meaningful than my back pack.  Read the rest of this entry »

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In the beauty, the vastness, the stillness, and the grace of the people we meet along the way, a very long walk can help us remember ourselves.

If you can’t remember who you are, try going for a very long walk! 

Every peregrino (pilgrim) has his or her own reason for walking the Camino de Santiago. I chose to walk the Camino because I wanted to remember myself.  Read the rest of this entry »

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After 100 miles (160 kms), a well needed rest day in Ribadesella, Spain.

Today could have been any delightful vacation day: instead of being startled from sleep by an alarm, we were awakened by both the bright sun and a cool mountain breeze streaming through our windows and into our room; we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast with enough time for even two cups of café con leche; and then strolled the pebbled sands of the grand arc of a beach along the northern Atlantic coast of Spain. Today we are in the tourist town of Ribadesella but we are anything but tourists; we are peregrinos, pilgrims on a journey, here for a day to let our bodies rest and recover. Read the rest of this entry »

God will fully satisfy every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
– Philippians 4:19

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Hanging out with singer-songwriter, Johnny Mercer in Savannah’s Ellis Square.

Dear Friends:

I pray that you are having a restful and restorative summer, and that all is well back at the Old Stone Church and in the great city of Cleveland, Ohio! As you are aware, I’ve been off campus on sabbatical since May 15 experiencing some restorative time of my own. That doesn’t mean I’ve been on vacation, though. In fact, I’ve been very busy doing some of the sorts of things that are reinvigorating my thoughts and my spirit for my ministry among you. Here’s the “dirty” details and more photos! Read the rest of this entry »

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RICK MORANIS, THE CANADIAN COMEDIAN SAID THAT HE TOOK A SABBATICAL FROM ACTING because shooting movies was stealing him away from his young children. “Keeping in touch with them from hotel rooms and airports wasn’t working for me. So I stopped.” Some take sabbaticals because they need to spend more time with their kids. Others, like myself, take sabbaticals because we need to spend more time with ourselves.

Too often pastors are very good at taking care of everyone but themselves. If you’ve been following my blog, you already know that this summer, I’m taking a long-overdue 12-week sabbatical from my ministry in downtown Cleveland – almost 16 weeks when I throw in a few weeks of vacation, to do something wonderfully countercultural: take care of myself. But “Where, O where is my pastor going?” you ask.

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The power of Easter can slip easily from our grasp, if we’re not careful. As far as the big Christian holy days are concerned, Christmas is so much easier to deal with than Easter.

At Christmas, we celebrate the birth of a child. No problem, there! Who can’t get behind a birthday celebration, especially one for a poor kid who grows up to be king? Disney ought to make a movie: Jesus: Prince of Kings.

At Easter, though, we have to accept that almost two thousand years ago a dead man was raised from the dead, got right up, walked around the place for fifty days, dropped in on old friends, and even cooked-up a mess of fish on the beach one morning. The Easter story is a whole lot trickier than Christmas to get our heads around. Christmas is a heart warmer. Easter is a mind bender.
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Taking a sabbatical, in some ways, forces us to overcome the anxious demons of workaholism and admit that there is a God and we’re not it! 

Rest Path

Just the mere idea of taking 12 weeks away from my daily work to renew my body, mind, and spirit seems radical to me. It goes against almost every planted grain shooting-up from the garden of my “work hard and work always” Protestant upbringing. “There is no work, however vile or sordid, that does not glisten before God,” said that miserable old workaholic reformer, John Calvin. The two most recurring imperatives of my youth were, “Get a haircut!” and “Get a job!” – most often spoken in the same breath. Never mind glistening before God, I was taught that “Work makes you a man!”

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