|Year End Letter 2007
I write this while preparing for my last few trips of this year and remembering trips over the last 25 years. The numbers surprise even me - 35 states, 4 countries, 5 prisons, 11 yearly meetings, 21 years teaching at Friends General Conference Gathering and Pendle Hill, with innumerable rape survivors, people with AIDS, and tortured refugees from every continent, an average of 24 trips a year, and working with as many as 2,000 people a year. At 55, I can look over my 2007 calendar and smile. But looking over all my travel calendars, I feel the need to sit down. My 2008 sabbatical comes just in time.
Three years ago I began to discuss the need for Quakers to take on the work of ending US-sponsored torture. In addition to all my travel work on trauma, I helped give birth to The Quaker Initiative to End Torture, which has now held 1 Canadian and 2 U.S. conferences and continues to grow.
I feel great accomplishment in all these years of healing work. I’ve worked very hard and surrendered my life to learning and healing. It’s not been easy - and goodness knows I am a reluctant student - but I am very happy with both the personal history of work and where I have come to be.
To accomplish all my leadings in the last few years I developed some very unhealthy habits - 15 hours a day of computer work and learning all I could about torture to teach articulately and gently. This was a productive choice that achieved much but took a toll on me. To recover, my sabbatical begins on Thanksgiving 2007 and goes to January 2009- no teaching or hands-on work during this time.
Beginning my sabbatical starts with changing patterns of overwork and desk time until my blood pressure and weight are lowered to healthy rates. I’ll be doing physical work such as painting the house. I am even going to stay out of contact with dear ones I’ve been working with a long time, a difficult but necessary discipline. I am doing all this so that my next 25 years of work will be even more graceful.
Please be assured there is no illness, burnout, or sudden financial ease leading to this sabbatical. I am not ill. Burnout is when you can no longer do your best. My work is still graceful, deeply appreciated, and much in demand. And sudden wealth does not appear to be a threat in this lifetime. This is simply a celebration of 25 years of trauma work, rest and rebalancing, and choosing how to begin again in 2009.
I hope you will support my rest with gifts during this sabbatical. My living has come mostly from gifts. I’ve been able to be of help to people surviving trauma because of the generosity of many over the years. Thank you for your gifts at this time too.