Fallow, according to google’s dictionary: land plowed and harrowed but left unsown for a period in order to restore its fertility; from the Old English fealgian, to break up land for sowing.
Tomorrow, Sunday, it will be a month since I’ve been the pastor of a church. The task of transitioning the congregation to a new outlook and a new permanent pastor is complete; the gifts have been given and the thank-you notes written; a loose end appears here and there, but is quickly addressed.
I’ve had a few possibilities for the future: one that turned out not to be, one from which I withdrew, a couple of which went to someone else. Others are in process. But on the whole, I am in a fallow season: ground plowed and harrowed, but, for the time being, devoid of seedlings.
Friends have encouraged me to relax, to think of this as a sabbatical. If I had another call lined up, if I could say that as of May 1 I will be thus and so, here or there, I would revel in this time. I would take a trip, be more adventurous with my time and money. But with income and health insurance uncertain, I am staying close to home and trying to guard resources.
I wonder, every day: Wait for a church? Put my energies into more adjunct teaching, into more writing? Fill my time with volunteer work? I am doing a little of each (except for new volunteer work; while I have looked into it, I am unwilling to make a commitment I may not be able to keep). Mostly, I am trying to pay attention ~ to what I am thinking and feeling, to what people ask of me or say to me. In Ignatian terms, I am seeking to interpret the movement of spirits, of The Spirit. I don’t have to act in haste, to jam a request into an already overloaded day; I can respond, or not, and consider whether I am being led in one direction or another. If someone asks a favor of me, is that all it is, or is it a portent of deeper possibility? Do the small jobs piling up as I struggle to find motivation with no real schedule or deadlines hide more expansive possibilities?
I am a girl who likes jobs and lists and charts and achievement. A fallow field poses a direct challenge to the core of my being. Perhaps therein lies the point.