My Summer Sabbatical

Greetings!
Well, in April I decided to put myself on a “summer sabbatical” to reflect, to be still, and to listen to my heart. Yes…I gave myself permission to not take any speaking or singing engagements this summer 🙂 However, I’m still working my day job. So, the weekends are filled with opening myself up to whatever I’m inspired to do that feeds my soul.
Easter Sunday, April 21, was my final service as the minister of Unity of Tri-Valley, after serving for 14 months in a labor of love with a lovely spiritual community. It was bittersweet but necessary for me to do some truth-telling to myself and step aside. Prior to that, I served as associate minister at Unity of San Leandro in Northern California for two years. And prior to that, I worked to earn my Masters of Divinity at Unity Institute and Seminary from 2013 to 2016 and was ordained in 2016. I am grateful for the privilege of serving and learning so much in church ministry! Now, it’s time to shift my focus a bit.
Reflections
Over the past few weeks and after several long walks, I’ve come to realize I’ve been going full speed in various ministry endeavors for quite some time. I made a decision in 2005 that I would live the next decades of my life a lot differently than the first few decades of my life. #1- I would live intentionally in alignment with a vision for my life and in alignment with my values. So, I had to do the work of asking myself those hard questions and writing down what I wanted in life and then begin to think/act/behave in alignment with those things. The most important things for me were spiritual growth and to being in integrity with myself.
One thing that was out of whack was my finances. I found myself in over $100,000 worth of debt in 2004. By putting Truth first in my life and gaining a greater awareness of abundance, I began to manifest an abundance consciousness and things began to turnaround. From 2008 to 2012, I studied to become a Licensed Unity Teacher, diving deeper into the spiritual teachings that had helped save me from spiraling into depression. They helped shift me into greater fulfillment, abundance, emotional healing, and a sense of purpose.
This particular spiritual path was working for me; I could see and feel the change; I felt more peace, more satisfaction, and more love and compassion for myself and others. By 2009, I was completely out of debt! It took a commitment to my spiritual practice, discipline, forgiveness work, and greater self-awareness to leave behind the judgmental, critical, self-defeating mental habits that were leaving me feeling empty. 
I’ve come to realize that our thoughts lead to our emotions and our actions.  One of the key principles I discovered says, “thoughts held in mind produce after their kind.” I took it to heart and focused on Spirit. Somehow, a renewed sense of resiliency began to surface. I watched myself like a hawk. I focused on loving life, loving God, and every day being a clear transparency for God’s love to flow through me. I had to face myself and “do my work,” which is still my continual work, to release and let go of that which no longer serves me in a positive, constructive way and make room for new, expanded ways of expressing. I think we all want to grow, get better, and expand. When we do, we give others permission and encouragement to do the same.
So, I just wanted to check in, catch you up, and give you a few highlights of my summer. In a nutshell, I’ve been walking, getting out into nature more, keeping up my regular contemplative prayer practice and meditation work, reflecting, reading, re-connecting with friends, enjoying podcasts (like the Home-brewed Christianity’s Radical Theology summer series with Jack Caputo and Tripp Fuller), spending time with family, and working on improving my sleeping and eating habits.
Slowly, as I roll out of sabbatical mode this fall…I will ramp up my on-line presence for Unity JOY Abundantly Expressing Ministries, and sharing JOY in our world wherever I can. Since its inception in January 2018, I’ve had other priorities that needed my attention:) But this desire to share my JOY has never left me! I plan to continue to my singing and speaking talents as I am led by Spirit. More to come!
For now, I will enjoy the rest of this summer cozying up with one of my favorite books, Sabbath, Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller. I love this quote from it:
“Sabbath is more than the absence of work; it is not just a day off, when we catch up on television or errands. It is the presence of something that arises when we consecrate a period of time to listen to what is most deeply beautiful, nourishing, or true. It is a time consecrated with our attention, our mindfulness, honoring those quiet forces of grace or spirit that sustain and heal us.”
I am so grateful for all my life lessons and how important it is to be authentic and to be true to myself.  If we don’t do this, we will never be happy (at least that is my experience). I encourage you to do the same; hang around those who will support you in being your highest, best self. BE JOY, BE LOVE, BE PEACE…and BE the force of good that you want to see in the world. We need YOU. We need the unique light and the JOY you bring! Please know that I am so very grateful for YOU and the love you bring. Enjoy the rest of your summer!
Love & joy,
Rev. Dinah