Friday, December 8, 2017

Rest and Renewal

While in college I had a friend who observed Shabbat strictly. From Friday evening through Saturday she rested, read for pleasure, played and attended services. She didn’t use any sort of electronics during this period, which meant that she sometimes had to sit outside of her dorm for 20 minutes before someone would walk by and electronically “swipe” the door allowing her to enter. On Saturday afternoons when many of us sat studying and stressing in the library, she would come in with board games and convince us to put aside our work for a few minutes to play with her.  

At the time I remember being in awe—how could she take a full 24 hours off?

I asked her about this and she sort of smiled at me… not fully in a condescending way, but in that way where someone has a secret that they feel like you should know but you don’t… and she told me that Shabbat wasn’t a time of deprivation. Instead, it was a sacred pause that allowed her to recharge and be more prepared in mind, body and spirit to do her work and live faithfully the rest of the week.  

It can be so easy to get caught up in the constant rush of our world. I find myself so tempted to forgo the critical practice of sacred pause in order to accomplish just one more task. Carving out space for peace and renewal in our lives is so countercultural.

Yet if we are to ask both our health care providers and scripture about the importance of rest, we receive the same answer: it is paramount.

We are reminded of this in the Genesis creation story—creation is not finished until God rests.  As Walter Brueggemann notes in his book Sabbath as Resistance, God’s resting on the seventh day of creation makes clear that: “YHWH is not a workaholic and… that the well-being of creation does not depend on endless work.”*

The well-being of creation does not depend on endless work. This is an important reminder, perhaps especially during the hectic holiday rush.

In this season of waiting and watching as we prepare ourselves for Christ’s coming, may we hear the invitation to sacred pause and the invitation to be found at peace. Perhaps we won’t engage in a full 24-hour Sabbath; but even if for just a few sacred minutes, may we take the time to recharge and reconnect with ourselves, with God and with one another.

Post by Dana Capasso Stivers
* Walter Brueggemann, Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now, pg. 6.
** Photo is Dana’s taken at the Incarnation Camp Chapel.

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