Minister’s Sabbatical Plans

Northern Nepal and India through the Eyes of a UU Minister

My sabbatical time starts to feel real as the wind and seasons shift. Gary and I will be traveling for February 7th to April 9th 2018. Our trip will begin in New Delhi, India, and on February 8th we take a plane to Rishikesh, India for two days to explore the cave where Jesus is said to have spent some time during his much contested years in India. Rishikesh is also at the mouth of the Ganges and a sacred site in and of itself. It is also said that Lord Vishnu appeared here under a Mango tree. All alcohol and non-vegetarian food is forbidden in this city because of its sacred nature.


The theme of my sabbatical is Northern Nepal and India through the Eyes of a UU Minister. Understanding that all life is understood through the context of its viewer, I hope to spend time noticing how religion, seen through my eyes and context, changes the lives of the people it touches, exploring the Hinduism, Buddhism and Indian Unitarianism of the people we live amongst in these two months.


After Rishikesh, we are on to Katmandu, Nepal, also by plane (our last plane until we leave for Boston on April 9th ) where the Council of Unitarians and Universalists will be having a conference from February 11- February 16th through which we will explore the multifaceted nature of our global faith and strive to better articulate what our shared faith is. We will hear from several keynote speakers, each speaking not only to the unique expression of Unitarian/Universalism in their faith communities, but also about how we bridge the differences of our faith expressions to become a stronger, more united voice for religious freedom in our world. As participants, we will gain experience in multicultural religious conversation and explore how to then share those conversations within our faith communities. After the conference, Gary and I will explore Katmandu until February 20th.


For the rest of our time in Nepal, February 16th until March 13th, guided by folks that Karma Sherpa, a Nepalese guide, social worker and grand thinker has arranged for us, we will be visiting and staying in small villages and trekking from place to place. On the large map above, the village of Junbesi, Northeast of Katmandu in the foothills of the Himalayas, is the largest village on our trek. The small hand drawn map seen here, is the outline of our trekking adventure.

I met Karma Sherpa at the Nantucket Project where I was an advisor to the scholars this year and wrote a Karma Sherpa sermon around his philosophy of life and its many lessons. He has become a friend in the last months and has built Gary and I a trek through Nepal that includes days and nights in villages and monasteries and schools that should put us in touch with many local people, customs, religions and rituals. It will be a several hour trek from village to village. We will be staying in villagers’ homes during this three week part of our journey including a stay with Karma’s family in the village of Taksindu for several days.


After the 21 day Nepalese village part of our journey, we will continue by jeep and bus into India where we will then journey slowly down to Shillong in the Khasi Hills, just above Bangladesh, and spend the rest of our sabbatical with the Indian Unitarians and their ministers, who live in a matrilineal society. I have had the pleasure of meeting and becoming friends with a few of these ministers at other conferences around the country and world. The history of Unitarianism in India is fascinating. That journey and time in Shillong, including time volunteering in a local Unitarian orphanage Margaret Barr Children’s Village, will take us another month. We fly out of New Delhi on April 9th to arrive in Boston on the same day with all of the time changes.

Throughout all of this time, my goal is to open my heart and mind to the people, religion, culture, and ways of living around me so that I might see, feel, learn and experience myself and others in ways that I have not and so learn new ways of being in the world and embody more compassion and awareness.

A sabbatical is not a vacation or a time off in the traditional sense. It is a time for minister and congregation to take time to grow, appreciate each other in new ways, open ourselves to new ideas and ways of being together and apart and so rejoin each other with more loving, energized hearts and minds, ready to create and inspire each other toward unmapped ways of being together and in the world.

I am so excited to go away and to return with ways of life that exist beyond our daily imaginings and listen to what you have all been up to in my absence and so together create something more beautiful, more capable of touching us and the world with more of our aliveness and purpose.