I was informed yesterday that I have been awarded the position of Procter Scholar at The Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts for the Spring Semester 2011, January - May.
I am honored and thrilled beyond the telling.
The award includes full tuition at courses offered through the BTI (Boston Theological Institute, which includes Harvard, BU, etc.), room and board, and the opportunity to work with a faculty adviser.
It's an absolute dream of a sabbatical time for me. I had been working on a proposal for a Lily Foundation Sabbatical Grant and know of some clergy who have gone off for three months to cooking schools in exotic places.
That sounds really great, too, but this . . .well. . .this feels like an itch in my soul that has just begun to be scratched. I'm already hearing something deep inside me saying, "Ahhhh!"
I have two projects I'm planning to work on during my sabbatical.
The primary one is an expansion of the work I started during my doctoral thesis, which defines the spiritual landscape of the process of 'coming out' - which I learned in the early 80s from a stellar faculty of People with AIDS at 'The University of Hospice' - and offers it as a gift to the wider church as a way to heal the ancient rift between spirituality and sexuality.
I think I want to narrow that focus a bit and speak more directly to LGBT people, inviting the wider church to listen into the conversation, if they wish. My working title is, "The Church is not for Sissies." (And, ain't that just the truth!)
The other project? Oh, that would be some rest. Mostly that will take the form of getting off the 'Liturgical Ferris Wheel" for a season and enjoying other people's sermons and liturgical innovations.
I'm looking forward to entering into serendipitous conversations with students in the refectory, and there are a particular few folk on the faculty whose intellectual brain cells I intend to pick in conversations I'm already excited to even begin to think about and imagine. I actually spent about an hour with my thesis last night, writing down questions in the margins.
Excited? Me? You betcha!
I've informed the bishop who is rejoicing with me, and there's already some initial positive buzz from my wardens and vestry who were told late last night, so the news can now officially go forth.
It's going to be a great sabbatical!
I am deeply grateful to the Episcopal Divinity School for this amazing opportunity.
(You may now return to your previously scheduled blogging.)