Today in church, Pastor Sarah challenged us to practice the spiritual discipline of Sabbath this week. The rules for Sabbath come from the oldest writings of the church. In Genesis, we are told to rest one day out of every seven, because God rested. God understood and understands that we get tired and worn out and burned out – even when we are doing good. And then in Exodus, we learn that the Israelites practiced Sabbath as an act of resistance. They refused to agree that their entire lives belonged to Pharaoh. And, likewise, in Jesus’ time, they practiced Sabbath as an act of resistance to the Roman occupiers.
1. Notice throughout your week when you rest. What feels most restful to you? It’s very restful to disengage my brain. When the weather is decent, I love to sit in the rocker on the back porch and just rock. Sometimes I listen to music, but often I engage in an earlier Spiritual Discipline of enjoying silence. Reading a trashy novel, with no deadline, also lets me turn my mind off.
2. Reflect on these two questions: What is saving my life? What is killing me? The beauty of the area where I live is saving my life right now. I can usually count on seeing Puget Sound every single day, and for someone who spent time languishing in Nevada and West Texas, cool water is a balm to my soul. The political climate, and the realization once again that people will descend into evil without a firm basis in a loving God, is destroying me. It’s killing my soul. I keep thinking if I could only talk to enough people, or educate enough children, or make enough phone calls to my elected representatives, surely things would begin to change and people would quit worrying about their own poverty, or powerlessness, or greed, and begin to think of the other people in our world. When I begin to despair, I often take a walk by the water and sit and listen to the waves lapping at the shore, and I gain a little peace, and the ability to go on with the work of changing the world.
3. Take one day this week for rest and no work. I’m retired, so I never work in the normal sense of the word. Because I don’t work, I have a hard time separating the days and “creating” a Sabbath. I am trying to quit obsessing about the number of steps I get on Sundays. The other days of the week, I try (and usually succeed) to get 10,000 steps a day. That involves carving time out of my other activities to walk, either indoors at the Wellness Center, or outdoors. For this one day a week, I eat what I want, and I don’t worry about how many steps I have. For someone who has been on a diet for three and a half years, not worrying about it is a real relief.