Finding your passion in peace


I just spent the better part of a week on Salt Spring Island with my research technician, Seth Luginbill.  We did not accomplish much with our hands on the trip, partly by design and partly by lack of preparation and it was frustrating at times.  But in the end we found peace – read on to understand why.

Each of us has an innate desire to mark our progress, to get things done.  For the construction worker, the carpenter, the salesman or the mechanic, the milestones are clear. He or she can go home at night having accomplished a measure of productivity, and know exactly what the measure is.  Not so with the academic.

It is a great challenge for academics to get beyond mere productivity and to the passion that produces truly lasting work.  The sabbatical I am currently taking is an amazing opportunity to do that.  I’ve spent the better part of the last two months planning for the next 5 years of research, working on a federal grant application.

So as Seth and I gazed at the magnificent horizon on Salt Spring Island, it was a very literal picture of the figurative work we were doing to envision five years of ecological restoration research.  Such visioning does not occur in isolation, and as we conversed with each other and with members of the Salt Spring Island Conservancy, our vision grew.

The morning we spent on Mt. Maxwell with our Salt Spring Conservancy colleagues was indeed a mountaintop experience.  We looked at the effects of recent fires on the landscape, and talked about the many ways we could work to try to understand what the fires had accomplished.

We found great peace on that mountain, just recently ravaged by fire, just as the creatures and plants we saw were finding their way on a new landscape.  But we did not do a single thing beyond discussing what we saw and developing a plan. 

Likewise Moses came down from the mountain with a blueprint.  It included the command from which sabbatical gets its name “Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.”  As academics, this rest must be a part of our work.  When we don’t set apart visioning time, the horizon threatens to close in and limit the passion for what we are called to do. 

A huge part of that calling is to inspire others to broaden their horizons.  In my case, this calling is a passion to see many, many others appreciate creation and keep it worth knowing…peace with the Creator.

    The view from Mt. Maxwell, with Seth Luginbill in the foreground

    and three members of the Salt Spring Island Conservancy just below him.

Last updated Oct. 29th, 2009 at 11:49am by David Clements