Wednesday, 21 November 2012

My Jubilee Year

"This fiftieth year is sacred—it is a time of freedom and of celebration when everyone will receive back their original property, and slaves will return home to their families. "
—Leviticus 25:10

It is difficult, if not impossible, to turn 49 years old and not think about what comes next. There is an inevitability that is inescapable. For some, it can lead to a total reexamination of their life's purpose. For others it can mean an embracement of all that is offered. For me, it was the realization that Matthew Broderick and Jodie Foster would also be turning 50 in 2012! For some strange reason, I found that comforting. Ferris Bueller and The Freaky Friday girl joining the half century club just help to reaffirm the basic truth that time marches on for all equally, regardless of fame, fortune, or social standing. We may choose to remember Matthew (I feel that I can call him Matthew...1962 birthdays have a special kinship!) "Twisting and Shouting" as Ferris, but reality knows better.

I am having no real identity crisis with the idea of turning 50. (Does that bore you? Perhaps you were holding out for uncomfortable angst or a massive Xanax-laden depression?) My life is in a pretty good place and I really can't complain. (I would publicly list all of my joys and blessings for you, but my grandmother used to say that would be an Ahora-an invitation to the evil eye, so I think that I will just play it safe for Bubby's sake!) But, there did seem to be something missing. It seemed obvious to me that there should be some way to mark this important milestone other than simply partying or revelling in Jodie's and Matthew's fifty years here on planet earth.

And so....I decided to go biblical. As my fiftieth birthday draws ever closer, I will be taking a steal a word from a friend. I will be embarking on a seven month leave of absence from my work at Temple "Sings all the Time and Won't Shut Up", and I hope to discover a measure of freedom and celebration just as the book of Leviticus commands. There is a karmic and cosmic twist to all of this as well. Just as I am about the celebrate my golden birthday, I have also recently marked eighteen years of service to my congregation. Chai! To Life! As well, The Husband and I find ourselves in the position of true empty-nesters. (Translation: College is over and they're gone!) After twenty-five consecutive years of hands on parenting, (and the expenses that go with it!) our children are off figuring out their own lives. We have come to a point where there is the joyous liberty of Tabula Rosa...A blank slate.

What should I do with this new found freedom? What would you do with seven uninterrupted months...a true gift of time? Travel? Create? Connect? I do have some thoughts and a few plans, but I am finding that the genuine jubilation accompanying this exercise is that everything is on the table. Yes, there will be travel. (That will be discussed in an upcoming post!) And yes, there will be learning and some form of creativity. But, hopefully there will be some surprises as well. It is precisely these feelings of the unsettled and the unresolved that is making these upcoming months so terribly exciting.

I am not a fan of the term "bucket list". There is an implication of death that makes me terribly uncomfortable. I am not ready to think of death. anybody ever ready to think about death? Rather, I am looking forward to adding to my life's vision. To see the world with a newfound freedom and most importantly of all.....I need to reclaim rest. Shabbat. Rest for my mind, rest for my body, rest for my soul. A Shabbatical. 

The winding down of the year 2012 brings with it the end of my first fifty years. I hope to begin the next fifty with excitement, wonder, courage, health, and hope. It is sacred time. It is celebratory time. It is "me" time.

I would love to hear from you all. What would you do with seven uninterrupted months? Please respond in the comments section.


  1. My half-century dawns next year, so I was really interested to read your great post today, Dawn. I LOVE the idea of a 7-month Shabbatical, and I'm trying to reconcile my mind to the simple fact that the world will not stop if I take some time off to celebrate, appreciate and perhaps relocate - at least in my head. (Found you through NaBloPoMo, in case you were wondering.)

    1. Thank you so much for your comments. Please send me a link to your blog so that I can pay you a return visit. All the best for your Jubilee Year.