Letter From Troy
- My work is in a season of transition. Since 1995 I have been in non profit leadership or ministry work without taking time for a sabbatical to recover and reflect. My work as a facilitator for inner, interpersonal, and collective healing is a gift expressed within community and I believe greater depth of impact and clarity lies across the threshold of rest.
- These past five years I’ve been the founder and director of The Hive , an interspiritual center for contemplation, art, and action. In 2022 we will be restructuring the organization and I’ll be devoting my work to the advisory board as a chair of programing and as a facilitator. In the last four years, I’ve also served as stated supply pastor for Bond Hill Presbyterian Church, a small congregation modeling racial diversity and solidarity with economically isolated neighbors. This community has discerned that it’s time to close and my work with them will wrap up at the end of the year.
- Over the past several years I have regained a love for writing essays, poetry, and teaching how organizations like the Hive can flourish. I’ll be using the time of sabbatical to read, research, and write these reflections in hopes to share them more widely wherever they might be of service to spiritual growth and the common good. I’m working with a writing coach to organize this work.
- Last, I’ve been a part of The Soul of Leadership cohort, directed by The Shalem Institute, organizing global leaders with learning and practices for discernment related to spiritual leadership in business and international relief and development. That cohort meets in southwestern England in January. I’ll be adding two weeks to that retreat with a stent at a Franciscan monastery and traveling to reflective spaces and pilgrimage sites. Your support will make it possible to travel and cover room and board for this trip as well as other weekend trips with my family in February.
The practice of sabbatical (2-3 months off for 5-7 years of service) is common among clergy of many faiths as well as nonprofit, education, and community-based organizations. We know from trauma informed care that “the body keeps score” and the ancient intuitions of our ancestors, the cloud of witnesses, realized this crucial resilience practice as well. In my lineage, Jesus took 40 days in the wilderness to wrestle with the great accuser and the wild beasts of the ego and to be cared for by messengers of good will before founding his community of collective healing and liberation and placing his own life at the cross hairs of political violence and collective forgiveness. Similarly, the apostle Paul, credited with organizing liberating communities across the empire of Rome, spent three years in Arabia in contemplative practices that nourished his authority and rooted his community work in a deep inner knowledge of the Sound of the Genuine. Both of these drew on the Hebrew tradition of the children of Israel spending 40 years in the wilderness unlearning 400 years of assimilation within life defined by labor and productivity. While in the wilderness they received miraculous daily bread as well as direct downloads from the divine including an emphasis on practicing a regular Sabbath, a stepping away from life and work.
A year ago I reached out to a small group of friends for some shared reflection and discernment about this season in my work. The overwhelming takeaway was this question, “What does rest and reward mean for you, Troy?” I do understand it’s a great privilege to take extended time away from work. That said, when those friends helped me discover that question they planted a seed that led me to ask how much of my creative work in the world has been tied to the hustle. Even as I write this and think about work in 2022 and beyond I’m not sure I’ll have the luxury of being free from the itinerant nature of my calling , but this sabbatical seems like an act of courage and trust. This is my best attempt to consent to stillness and reciprocity in the seasonal nature of collaborative work in ministry and serving the common good.
One final note is the effects of rest and reward for my family. As many of you know, spiritual leadership does not always enjoy the conventional benefits of compartmentalizing time on and off. Walking with folks through loss and grief as well as celebration requires weekends and last minute emergency calls, a requirement transferred to my wife and kids. After my three weeks in Europe I’ll be home with my family, squirreling away by day to a borrowed study to write and reflect. Our intention is to take extended weekends as a family to lean further into this reflective time. It seems important that this rest not transfer into opportunity-cost when it comes to the other contract and retreat work I would normally be earning as livelihood to share with my family. Your gifts will help this sabbatical be a sustaining part of keeping things afloat.
Thank you for considering partnering with me in this step. In addition to gifts I welcome thoughts, prayers, and words of encouragement as I cross this threshold in my life’s work. I invite you to join me in these three intentions for my sabbatical: listening to my body, reflecting on my life’s work, and clarifying my intentions for this second half of life That I’m approaching.