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Growing And Grounding Ourselves
March 2007

This monthÕs Sabbatical Update comes from Elea:

The Sabbatical Planning Committee asked me to write the monthly newsletter column this time in order to give you a sense of what I will be doing during my sabbatical next Spring. First, let me say how lucky and blessed I feel to be able to take a sabbatical. I know this is an opportunity and a gift that most people never get and I am very grateful.

While my plans for the sabbatical time are far from final, they are starting to fall into place. Mary Oliver’s poem, Thirst, from her new book of poetry by the same name, moves me deeply and speaks to what I hope my sabbatical time will be about.

Another morning and I wake with thirst for the goodness I do not have. I walk out to the pond and all the way God has given us such beautiful lessons. Oh Lord, I was never a quick scholar but sulked and hunched over my books past the hour and the bell; grant me, in your mercy, a little more time. Love for the earth and love for you are having such a long conversation in my heart. Who knows what will finally happen or where I will be sent, yet already I have given a great many things away, expecting to be told to pack nothing, except the prayers which, with this thirst, I am slowly learning.

The focus of my sabbatical will be studying and practicing a tradition known as Contemplative Prayer, which is also known as Centering Prayer. Contemplative Prayer has been described as a prayer of silence, an experience of God’s presence as the ground in which our being is rooted, the source from whom our life emerges at every moment. I plan to learn about and practice contemplative prayer at the Shalem Institute in Washington, DC. In addition, I will spend time reading, writing and practicing yoga.

I hope to start my sabbatical with a short retreat at Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health ( in the Berkshires, a place I have never been, but long wanted to visit. In addition to visiting the Shalem Institute, we will hopefully travel as a family to visit one of my sisters in northern California, (and make a brief visit to Esalen Institute in Big Sur). We will also spend some time in Tennessee and north Georgia visiting with Fran’s family and make our way to Edisto, South Carolina, where Fran’s parents have a cottage near the ocean.

Since extensive travel with four year olds doesn’t seem very restful, about half of my sabbatical time will be at home in Groton. During the time we are home, I expect to carve out space and time for reading and writing by renting a studio or office away from the house. Finally, I will also spend some of the time I am home doing community service/volunteering in some form and hope to find an agency or organization that will be able to put me to some use.

The Sabbatical Planning Committee is working hard to put all the pieces into place so that the congregation’s experience during my sabbatical in Spring, 2008 will be one of growth and spiritual deepening. Plans are starting to take shape for a truly exciting calendar of Sunday services, highlighting the talents of our own members and bringing inspiring speakers from beyond our doors to share their gifts. As always, feel free to contact any member of The Sabbatical Planning Committee with your suggestions, concerns, hopes and ideas.

Elea Kemler, for the Sabbatical Planning Committee

Becky Pine, Chair
Donna Allen
Karen Johnson
Melinda Green
Steve Lieman
Karen Goudey
Alice van Ormer
Elea Kemler


3 Powderhouse Road … Groton, MA 01450-4700 … 978-448-6307 …   …  

Most recently updated 2007-02-24