Living in Community on Sabbatical

Kim Sawers is Joseph C. Hope Professor of Leadership and Ethics at Seattle Pacific University. She spent her sabbatical time at Ridley, along with her husband.  On her return home, she reflected on her time within the Ridley community and shares her reflections with us here.

My sabbatical time at Ridley Hall was more than I could have hoped for and exactly what God knew I needed – even if I did not.

sawers kimFrom the moment I arrived, I found an open and welcoming community. I must admit that I was taken aback initially at how everyone seemed to know we were arriving, our situation and wanted to offer prayers and support. Instead of hearing “I will pray for you” (a future action), I heard “can I pray for you?” with an immediate pause for prayer together. I soon found that this was an integral part of the identity of Ridley Hall – transparently sharing lives and an emphasis on prayer.

When I first explored the option of a Sabbatical at Ridley Hall, I was interested in pursuing my research topic CEO pay disclosure and pay inequity from a theological perspective. Richard Higginson had already done work on CEO pay from the theological side and seemed like a natural leader in this field. I also wanted to study internationally in hopes that I could be in a completely different environment - to have an opportunity to “reset” my work life balance (imbalance). Being separated by a significant distance from all my other responsibilities felt like it would provide the greatest opportunity for that to happen. Finally, I wanted to participate in a community of faith and develop a new rhythm of prayer and worship. My time at Ridley fulfilled all of those original plans and desires and many more that were completely unexpected.

Each week when I met with Richard and we chatted about what I had been up to the week before. Richard asked insightful questions, gave me contacts of people in the field that might be beneficial to providing “on the ground context” for my project and would then suggest a book (or books) that might be helpful. Each book was instrumental and timely and felt like a perfect next step for my work. Richard’s insight, knowledge and ability to mentor and guide scholars at the intersection of faith and business was a godsend to me.

Each day was different as the student leaders for the day brought their own unique flavor and expression to the worship to those pages making them alive in new ways.

At Ridley, I also found evidence of the diversity of the body of Christ. Coming from a Presbyterian church, I initially struggled with maneuvering around The Book of Common Prayer. I wondered if it would become repetitive when using the same pages day after day. Yet, each day was different as the student leaders for the day brought their own unique flavor and expression to the worship to those pages making them alive in new ways. Diverse expressions of worship were encouraged and embraced, reflecting the body of Christ. It reminds me that the Church is wide and broad and finding the acceptance of that diversity in one place was refreshing and encouraging - We are one body in Christ. In addition, I ended my time at Ridley being able to maneuver somewhat adeptly around The Common Book of Prayer.

While I knew that I wanted to participate in the life of the community, I had no idea how much the community would embrace and include us.

While I knew that I wanted to participate in the life of the community, I had no idea how much the community would embrace and include us. We were invited to be part of the staircase worship on Monday and Friday, morning prayers, weekend meals with residents, and an occasional croquet match. At meals, students and staff were always willing to chat and usually initiated the conversation. During my time at Ridley, I met two other sabbatical guests and we enjoyed going to lectures, concerts, and sung compline together, forging new friendships. Finally, I attended the year-end activities including the Ball. It was great to see the bonds that students have formed and how much fun they could have together. It was a joy to behold.

What we did not plan for was that shortly before we were to leave for Ridley, my husband was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer. We had no idea what his treatment would be or if we would be able to go to Ridley at all. As it turned out, he was able to start on one form of therapy, with the next phase to begin in the fall. We felt like we were given an addition gift. The gift of time together in this special place; to be together as a couple, to reflect on life and consider what we value most. We were able to see some of those values played out in a community of faith and know that those values will be taken out into the world to serve God. We pray for those that leave Ridley; that they will take the grounding they received at Ridley with them. Similarly, we pray that we can incorporate what we have come to value: a prayerful attitude always, a focus on others manifested through acceptance encouragement and support, and the ability to enjoy others and live a life of joy.

My sabbatical time at Ridley Hall was more than I could have hoped for and exactly what God knew I needed – even if I did not.

Living in Community on Sabbatical

Kim Sawers is Joseph C. Hope Professor of Leadership and Ethics at Seattle Pacific University. She spent her sabbatical time at Ridley, along with her husband.  On her return home, she reflected on her time within the Ridley community and shares her reflections with us here.

My sabbatical time at Ridley Hall was more than I could have hoped for and exactly what God knew I needed – even if I did not.

sawers kimFrom the moment I arrived, I found an open and welcoming community. I must admit that I was taken aback initially at how everyone seemed to know we were arriving, our situation and wanted to offer prayers and support. Instead of hearing “I will pray for you” (a future action), I heard “can I pray for you?” with an immediate pause for prayer together. I soon found that this was an integral part of the identity of Ridley Hall – transparently sharing lives and an emphasis on prayer.

When I first explored the option of a Sabbatical at Ridley Hall, I was interested in pursuing my research topic CEO pay disclosure and pay inequity from a theological perspective. Richard Higginson had already done work on CEO pay from the theological side and seemed like a natural leader in this field. I also wanted to study internationally in hopes that I could be in a completely different environment - to have an opportunity to “reset” my work life balance (imbalance). Being separated by a significant distance from all my other responsibilities felt like it would provide the greatest opportunity for that to happen. Finally, I wanted to participate in a community of faith and develop a new rhythm of prayer and worship. My time at Ridley fulfilled all of those original plans and desires and many more that were completely unexpected.

Each week when I met with Richard and we chatted about what I had been up to the week before. Richard asked insightful questions, gave me contacts of people in the field that might be beneficial to providing “on the ground context” for my project and would then suggest a book (or books) that might be helpful. Each book was instrumental and timely and felt like a perfect next step for my work. Richard’s insight, knowledge and ability to mentor and guide scholars at the intersection of faith and business was a godsend to me.

Each day was different as the student leaders for the day brought their own unique flavor and expression to the worship to those pages making them alive in new ways.

At Ridley, I also found evidence of the diversity of the body of Christ. Coming from a Presbyterian church, I initially struggled with maneuvering around The Book of Common Prayer. I wondered if it would become repetitive when using the same pages day after day. Yet, each day was different as the student leaders for the day brought their own unique flavor and expression to the worship to those pages making them alive in new ways. Diverse expressions of worship were encouraged and embraced, reflecting the body of Christ. It reminds me that the Church is wide and broad and finding the acceptance of that diversity in one place was refreshing and encouraging - We are one body in Christ. In addition, I ended my time at Ridley being able to maneuver somewhat adeptly around The Common Book of Prayer.

While I knew that I wanted to participate in the life of the community, I had no idea how much the community would embrace and include us.

While I knew that I wanted to participate in the life of the community, I had no idea how much the community would embrace and include us. We were invited to be part of the staircase worship on Monday and Friday, morning prayers, weekend meals with residents, and an occasional croquet match. At meals, students and staff were always willing to chat and usually initiated the conversation. During my time at Ridley, I met two other sabbatical guests and we enjoyed going to lectures, concerts, and sung compline together, forging new friendships. Finally, I attended the year-end activities including the Ball. It was great to see the bonds that students have formed and how much fun they could have together. It was a joy to behold.

What we did not plan for was that shortly before we were to leave for Ridley, my husband was diagnosed with an aggressive form of prostate cancer. We had no idea what his treatment would be or if we would be able to go to Ridley at all. As it turned out, he was able to start on one form of therapy, with the next phase to begin in the fall. We felt like we were given an addition gift. The gift of time together in this special place; to be together as a couple, to reflect on life and consider what we value most. We were able to see some of those values played out in a community of faith and know that those values will be taken out into the world to serve God. We pray for those that leave Ridley; that they will take the grounding they received at Ridley with them. Similarly, we pray that we can incorporate what we have come to value: a prayerful attitude always, a focus on others manifested through acceptance encouragement and support, and the ability to enjoy others and live a life of joy.

My sabbatical time at Ridley Hall was more than I could have hoped for and exactly what God knew I needed – even if I did not.