So I wanted to say something more about Sabbath time.  Which in my mind is different than time off.  At the end of a full week of work, I have always found that I need time off.  I need to let go and begin to relax.  But Sabbath is really about renewal.  And at the heart of renewal, for me anyway, is God.  I’m reasonably good about taking time with God.  But a full day?  That’s more of a challenge for me.

Part of my problem is that much of my work is involved in doing the work involved in making other people’s Sabbath happen:  worship, retreats and the like.  And although I almost always have at least one time of prayer/reflection during a day, by and large that feels like work to me.  It’s part of how I prepare so that I can do what I do for others.  When I was working full time, I always wanted to have two days off back to back one week of the month.  Because the second day, when I had more energy and was relaxed, tended to feel more like Sabbath to me.  The first day, if you will, was a day of recovery.  The second day was a day of renewal.

And, yes, I know that part of my problem is that I get caught up in doing things (even if it’s only surfing channels or blogging).  There’s a busyness to my life that is likely my greatest spiritual challenge.  Because when I keep my self and my mind busy, there is really no room for God to be there for me.  Not without forcing a way in.  And my God doesn’t operate like that.  (Well, except in the sense that eventually something will knock me over the head and finally get my attention.  God is always looking to catch my attention.  But it’s an ahah moment of discovery, not a pin you down and make you listen moment.)

What has worked better for me is longer periods of time.  There is a real possibility of Sabbath in this time recovering from my surgery.  There are times apart, even when I help lead them, that really do seem to work for renewal in my life.  Fresh Start retreats (which I’ve been helping facilitate) come to mind.  The Benedictine Exprerience Weekend before Christmas comes to mind.  My Thanksgiving weekend comes to mind.  (I’ve blogged a bit about those last two.)

I know that for some people who take time like this, Zen Buddhists come to mind, there may be no sense of God for them in their practices of renewal.  But for me, the command to take this kind of time is basic, and it comes from God.  It’s one of the ten commandments.  And in my mind, we’re commanded to do this, not because it somehow does something for God, but because God knows it does something valuable for us in our lives.  I know I function better when I get this kind of time in my life.  I know I feel more whole (holy) and complete.  I feel centered.

We are a society that does.  God is a god who fundamentally is.  And God invites us just to be there in God’s presence, where we are valued because we are who we are, not because we do what we do.  God invites us to be loved for ourselves.  At my best, I can do that for my wife.  And I know that she loves me (and shows it most of the time) even when my actions tick her off.  In the words of a recently popular song, “She loves me for me.  Not because …”  And that’s how God is.  And that’s why time with God in the center of my life renews me and grounds me.  It gives me a sense of self and a place to stand in that sustains me during all the stuff that happens in normal living in a normal week.

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