Go nowhere to go somewhere.
Do nothing to do something.
Dump fuel to refuel.
Stop to go.
Pause to produce.
The paradox of sabbath.
And sabbath is what chapter 8 of God in the Yard is all about.
Trusting in cycles of strength and weakness, rest and work, presence and absence (or presence and hiddenness.)
“In those days I saw people in Judah treading winepresses on the Sabbath and bringing in grain and loading it on donkeys, together with wine, grapes, figs, and all other kinds of loads. And they were bringing all this into Jerusalem on the Sabbath. Therefore, I warned them against selling food on that day.” ~Nehemiah 13:15 (NIV)
L.L. has an interesting observation.
I like Nehemiah’s description because it focuses not so much on prohibition but the weight of reality. Words like tread, heaps, loading, burdens suggest a work-ethic that has gone beyond healthy productivity to bondage. Even the mention of donkeys stirs something in me, because a Jewish Sabbath made allowances for animals, including beasts of burden. So that Sabbath seems to say, to high and low, “Just stop. Tomorrow is another day. You will wake up and the press will still be there, the grain, the wine, the figs.” ~p.75
The birds must know I mean them no harm. They wait until I can almost fluff their feathers before they fly. They know I bear food and flock back to the feeders when I turn my back. I notice how the snow squeaks as I walk, and I squint against coconut sherbet sprinkled with a million shattered jewels in the sun. I note the shapes of naked brown stark against blue and wonder who it was that said a tree is just a tree.
Since I’ve stopped to sit outside, I see what I never saw. And I see what I did see in a new light.
What is hidden at night is revealed in the light.
I sit on the porch steps tonight while the wind bites bitter through my layers. The crescent moon hangs like a suspended bowl. It casts a foggy glow, but the night is brighter because of the snow. Stars spill across black china.
What is hidden in the light is revealed at night.
Seasons and cycles.
Winter will give way to spring and spring to summer and summer to fall.
Time passes relentless.
And we’ll miss the music if we don’t pause to listen.
An hour a day to doodle time.
One full day a week to rest from our work.
To be free to be.
So Sabbath frees me to be something other than “writer”; yet it also makes me more of a writer, as it develops unexplored parts of me that oddly impact my writing. ~p. 77
One day out of seven, or 1=6 is an unexpected equation, but it seems to work miracles in our lives. Still, many of us have difficulty granting even one day of rest to our six days of work. Just why do we shun giving up one day? Are we in need of claiming all the accomplishments for ourselves, when Sabbath suggests they might come from God and open space as well? Sabbath relieves us of our illusion and burden that we are the center of all our accomplishments. ~p. 79
Weekends can be so busy. If it’s not work, it’s ball games or household chores or projects. Even church days can be frantic days. You know it’s true.
So I pray you we dare to sabbath this weekend.
Even for a whole day.
Better yet, do it every week.
To trust that whatever needs doing will still be there.
To pause in His presence.
And know that He is God.
03/03/2011: Linking this post with Bonnie Gray as the Faith Barista community jams on the topic of rest.