Saturday, February 11, 2006

The Sabbatical begins - sort of

As some of you know, i am beginning a sabbatical thanks to the good graces of the Metcalf Charitable Foundation's Renewal Fellowship program. It's an amazing opportunity for me to pause in my so so busy life to "rest and reflect." Ahhh, but how easy it would be to use this time simply tocatch up on many deferred and delayed projects, do some of that volunteer work i never feel i have time for, and generally fill up my time with a new kind of busyness. To the Metcalf's credit, they did make clear that one of their concerns was precisely this danger - that deserving people would undermine the objective of rest and renewal by doing what is in many of our natures to do - busyness and overwork. I'm not saying that i've got it figured out well. And one of the many things i plan to reflect deeply on is exactly this: how do those of us devoted to the service work that characterizes the non-profit and charitable world rest and renew ourselves. This, of course, is linked to numerous related issues, and, for me, is nested within a critical understanding of power and privilege. Which is to say that i want to look closely at how racism and class and gender (as well as other forms of oppression that structure our society and our lives) work against our communities (families, friends, neighbours) to live equitably and justly with each other. That i am a white guy with a fair number of privileges working for me does not escape my critical gaze. And, while i am both grateful and excited to have this fellowship, i am also critically aware that unless i make a conscious effort both to understand and to act on this privileged moment in the interests of a more just world, i will, undoubtedly, add to the suffering of oppressed and struggling people. I am keenly aware that the privileges i have are linked to the lack of such for many. The few prosper at the expense of the many. And so, i will be thinking about this over the next few months while also doing exactly what this grant is aimed at: resting and renewing. I am studying poetry, i am doing some bookbinding, i'm writing, writing, writing. And more. I will use this blog to share my thoughts regularly in the hopes that what i learn can be shared quickly. I invite dialogue and response, challenge and critique.

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