This week’s article is submitted by Jeana Pynes, Pastor of Families and Community Engagement, just returned from a summer sabbatical.

Hello my Highlands Friends, I’m back! And if I had to choose one word to describe my sabbatical summer, it would be beauty.

Though oftentimes, beauty was elusive. I had to work for it. One such adventure was bike riding in the Peak District of England. I was determined to make it happen. So, we took a very long bus ride which dumped us off in what seemed like the middle of nowhere. The bus driver pointed us in the right direction and drove off. We were still a mile from where we were going to rent the bikes! And that mile was up. Not straight up, but still up.

With no other choice, we started our ascent. It was hot and humid (it was a weirdly hot summer in England). At one point, Fiona stopped and said, “Mom, I don’t know if I can do this.” Now, when Fiona says something like that, I have to pause. So I stopped, looked at her and didn’t quite know what to do. It wasn’t like there was an Uber nearby. But then she looked at me and said, “let’s keep going.” So we did. We made it. We guzzled three bottles of water, rented our bikes and set out. The ride was stunning.

But the beauty that sticks the closest to my heart is a beauty that I don’t have to travel to find. It too can be elusive and something I have to work for. It lives in the two young humans my husband and I have the privilege and opportunity to raise. But boy oh boy, beauty is the last thing I am thinking of when I am hacked off at one or both of them. And this summer, we had our moments!

Sometimes, in those times when anger was roiling in my belly, some bit of beauty would slap me across the face. It was sure tempting to hold onto my anger, because, I had a right to be angry, right? I mean, here I was, taking my kids on a trip of a lifetime, shouldn’t their attitude, every minute of the trip, be undying gratitude? But watching Aria run down a stone path on the cliffs of Wales was a beauty that shook me out of my self-righteous anger.

It reminds of a quote by CS Lewis where he says, “anger wearies itself out, and truth comes in.” The truth that the most beautiful things in my life aren’t found traveling to other countries, but in the daily-ness of my life right here.

Lastly, my sweet community, I thank you for blessing me with my sabbatical summer. I come back with a heart that is ready for all that lies ahead!

With Deepest Gratitude,