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The bounty of a sabbatical goes beyond mere time away.

We were both apprehensive, my wife and I. We had been away from our congregation for twelve months, a sabbatical year, and we were on our way back. It had been a wonderful year, soaking in the silence, gulping down great drafts of high-country air. Could we handle the transition from the solitude of the Montana Rockies to the traffic of Maryland?

Being a pastor is a difficult job, maybe no harder than any other job-any job done well requires everything that is in us-but hard all the same. For a year we had not done it: no interruptive phone calls, no exhilarating/exhausting creativity at pulpit and lectern, no doggedly carried out duties. We played and we prayed. We split wood and shoveled snow. We read and talked over what we read. We cross-country skied in the winter and hiked in the summer.

Every Sunday we did what we had not done for thirty years: we sat together and worshiped God. We went to the Eidsvold Lutheran Church in Somers with seventy or eighty other Christians, mostly Norwegians, ...

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