no foreigners allowed

A sabbath rest, Day -41

It’s November 20, about 41 days until my sabbatical begins. It’s also 2020, about 8 months since I had Covid-19. And the world is closed, mostly. At least the corner where I want to go for the spring semester: Nepal.

I was encouraged today, as the US embassy in Nepal seemed to indicate the country may be loosening immigration restrictions. It no longer says, in all caps, NO FOREIGNERS ALLOWED. The small print still says that, but between the lines it appears they are open to people on official business, which I hope to be, volunteering to teach Journalism at Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu.

The last few weeks I’ve been hoping for more clarity, however. I get the time off, but if the country does not open, I need to make other plans. I’ve thought of some, but my heart is in Nepal. At any rate, I do need to get away. A sabbatical should always be somewhere else. It is impossible to escape the daily obligations of work and church without going somewhere else.

Photo by Jake Young on

Plan A is Nepal. We’ve been studying the language, and we love the people. And it is definitely somewhere else. For instance, a Nepali verb has over 20 possible endings, some of which also change the ending of the subject or object. It’s challenging, but Katie and I have been taking private lessons for several months; it seems important to reinforce our learning by spending some time there.

I have several other things I want to do accomplish, which I’m sure I will eventually write about. But accomplish is the keyword. If you are going to get a few months off, both for rest and for study, you have to have an idea what they both look like. I’m not sure I know yet, but that’s one reason I write—to find out what I think.

As far as where to go is concerned, plan B currently is a place in rural north Georgia owned by a cousin. The internet is sketchy, but it’s also slow in Nepal. At least I won’t spend time shoveling snow that I had hoped to spend writing a book. I need to write in either case, not only because I’m expected to but because I want to.

There is much to consider about this time and its potential. Why Nepal? Write what? How do you disengage from a busy life? Can it even done? How does one get a VISA from a country that is closed by a global pandemic? What is the Nepali word for sabbatical? How often does it snow in Georgia? Why am I so tired? What does a sabbath rest look like and why is it important? Why can’t everybody have one?

I hope to be able to answer some of these questions. And to answer some of yours. Undoubtedly, the next few months will be an adventure outward or a journey inward. Hopefully a bit of both. But am I writing for me? Or for you?


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