Further Developments: Small breaks can make big difference

Head-and-shoulders view of Rev. Sean Parker DennisonDear Friends,

Welcome to February! Time is flying and there is so much going on. The UUA and Side With Love are halfway through the Thirty Days of Love. We begin exploring our new monthly Soul Matters theme: Persistence. And you may have noticed that I am taking time for study, planning, and relaxing from Jan. 28 to Feb. 7.

One thing I’ve learned over my nearly 20 years of ministry is that using two weeks of my study leave mid-winter is the best way to care for my mind, body, and spirit. Ministry is a wonderful, intense, interesting, ever-changing, and on-call profession and one way to invest in the congregation’s future is to take good care of myself during the year and not try to barrel through until summer without a break.

I choose the end of January/beginning of February for a time of focused rest, research and planning for the second half of the year because I find if I don’t, my energy and enthusiasm can start to wane. I also prefer to be away for a shorter time than many UU ministers take in the summer. I think the shortened time away gives summer visitors the chance to meet the minister more quickly and helps all of us stay connected year-round. We do, after all, need each other. We don’t take a break from our mission, our values, or our work for justice in the summer, either.

As I take this short study leave, I hope it will be a reminder to you to take care of yourself too. Your body, mind, and spirit are valuable and important. Even if you can’t arrange your own down time, remember even small breaks can make a big difference. Pause. Breathe. And remember, you matter.

Love will guide us,

Rev. Sean