I think it is a good thing. It’s been only a week. I turned off my work email, got on a plane and my wife Linda and I left for Europe. But it actually feels much longer. And that’s what feels like such a good thing. Except for a text from someone asking me to circumvent the online reservation system for our church park so she could get a discount, I have been able to totally disengage. I’m beginning to experience the four “R’s” designed for my sabbatical plan.


A view of the Austrian Alps near where we are staying.

In the sabbatical grant proposal to the National Clergy Renewal Program, these words were written regarding my sabbatical plan:

“We treasure Jeremiah 6:16a (NIV) which reads; ‘This is what the Lord says: ‘Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls.’ We believe Dennis will find rest for his soul as he walks on four ancient paths that we have discerned for this sabbatical. The four paths are as follows: 1) REST; 2) RECHARGE; 3) RETOOL; and 4) RECONNECT.

For Dennis, REST is found through some inactivity but primarily through activities outside his normal routines. He RECHARGES through adventure, exploration, travel and photography. Dennis wants to RETOOL through reading and learning opportunities. This plan will help him to RECONNECT with himself, his wife of 39 years, his 3 adult children and their spouses, 4 grandchildren, extended family and his Biblical, denominational and family heritages. We believe these four paths of his sabbatical will help him to continue inspiring transformissional living in others for many years to come.”

Standing in the pulpit of the church my mom's side of the family (Kropf) would have worshipped in the late1600's in Schwarzenegg, Switzerland.During this first week of our sabbatical, we have breathed deeply of the beauty seen in the Swiss and Austrian Alps, gazed in awe at centuries-old cathedrals and absorbed the impact of lay-your-life-on-the-line choices our 14th and 15th century family members made because of their deep faith. We have been busy—Walked a lot. Climbed many steps. Toured Salzburg on bikes. Driven hundreds of kilometers. Stood in the pulpits of churches my forefathers worshipped in. Pushed the shutter button hundreds of times. Sampled a lot of local foods. And much more!

Yet, we are experiencing rest: mental, emotional and spiritual. And even a bit of physical rest. We definitely are starting to feel recharged. We have been retooling through reading and absorbing the immense knowledge and inspiring insights received by spending a day with Anabaptist/Reformation history expert, Dr. Hanspeter Jecker. And both Linda and I are reconnecting. Our strengths and weaknesses are complimentary and we make a great traveling team. We have been praying together more than ever, reconnecting with God. Anticipating each day as an adventure of faith—looking for God sightings…and there have been many!

This scene in the Austrian village of St. Lorenzen where we are staying reminded us of Psalm 23.

Every day of this sabbatical is a blessing! We are grateful for the leaders and people of Cape Christian who have given us this time off. We are most thankful for the Lilly Endowment—which is fully funding this time away.

And now, take some time to view some images I’ve captured over the past week in the special Sabbatical 2014 folder on my photography website – www.GingerichPhotoArt.com. Enjoy!

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