I told friends when I first resigned that I was on a sort of sabbatical - sort of because most people when they take a sabbatical have a job waiting for them when the sabbatical is over. I feel my sabbatical has been/is a resting, re-creative, and rejuvenating experience. Nevertheless I couldn't help but "pun" around with my sabbatical terminology so I came up with a fictive, for indeed my sabbatical is fictive (in the professional sense of the word sabbatical), sabbatical because all I have read, by no grand design, has been works of fiction.
For years I have dabbled with fiction reading a novel here or there, I even created a sermon series based on the works of Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio, but my dabbles were always - always - outweighed by a heavy dose of non-fiction: historical, theological, and practical titles.
So what has happened during my fictive sabbatical? I have developed a greater appreciation of dialogue, especially in the gospels. Also, I have developed a greater appreciation for the daily ins and outs of ministry. I believe fiction writers have more faith in pastoral ministry than most pastors do! How can I say that? They pay more attention to life, to light and darkness, to emotions, to how the past influences the future, how dreams create realities, how rituals transform (or tear down) individuals/families, & etc. I think pastors have and make these insights just as much as any fiction writer but we need to be reminded/nudged of them.
I will soon post a New York Review of Books type of review on Gilead & Home by Marilynne Robison and Father Melancholy's Daughter by Gail Godwin and how they both represent (maybe even redeem) the pastor as a character in fiction and remind pastors (all members of the clergy, not just Christian ministers) of their importance in human life.