For those of you who regularly read my bi-weekly blogs, bless you. I’m a writer at heart and appreciate your ear and faithfulness in reading. For the next twelve weeks though, I’m going to break from my usual writing pattern and invite you on my Sabbatical journey. Each week I’ll be sharing my experiences, thoughts, and discoveries as I step outside of my day to day schedule. This is the first Sabbatical travelogue entry. Let’s just call it my ‘Sabbaticalogue.”
I realize I may be over-promising a bit here, but this is my eager attempt to keep you, the reader, engaged with me, the writer, all summer. So, I welcome you to join me as I sojourn.
A sabbatical is supposed to be a season of rest and renewal. That I know intellectually, but it’s a hard lesson for me to learn emotionally. Even within the first few days of my cessation from work, I’m finding myself wanting to organize my daily rest schedule.
7:30 - 8:00 am—Devotions
8:00 -10:00 am—Read and Reflect
10:00 am – noon—Hike with Laura
Noon - 2:00 pm—Continue Reading
You get the point.
I’ve been looking forward to this sabbatical for 27 years (sort of), and now that it’s here, I’m wrestling with resting. How does one truly rest? I don’t think God rested from His six days of creation because He was tired. He rested, ceased, desisted (the meaning of shabbat), because of completion. The work was done; it was time to stop, smell the roses (which He had just created) and celebrate.
I’m encouraged by this understanding of God resting on the seventh day (Genesis 2:3) because it gives greater purpose to sabbath than just lying around eating M & M’s (although I’ve done some of that, too). And that’s how I can wrap my mind around twelve weeks of cessation from work—not laziness, slothfulness, or any of those negative meanings of “not working.” It is possible to have cessation from one thing in order to have celebration and vivacity in another.
One of our E91 elders reminded me before I left town that although I am retreating from work, I should not retreat from community. I agree. I just finished reading Bonhoeffer’s My Soul Finds Rest, which is a compilation of his sermons and reflections on the Psalms. In the prologue, he writes, “The only way to understand the Psalms is on your knees, the whole congregation praying the words of the Psalms with all its strength.”
One of the Psalms I am trying to understand these next few months is Psalm 131 in which the psalmist writes, “I have calmed and quieted my soul” (verse 2). I invite you to join me this summer as we pray those words together with all our strength.
Calm and quiet our souls, O Lord, that we might rest in Thee and then work for Thy great pleasure. Amen.