“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
~ Anne Lamott
Ahhh…summertime! Long, relaxing days filled with sunshine, swimming, barbeques, and leisurely strolls. Or – does your reality look somewhat different? A date on the calendar – June 21st, marking the summer solstice – doesn’t mean that our worries have disappeared or that we will instantly experience a carefree life.
Do you feel weary? Or perhaps a tad overwhelmed? You are in good company; the American Psychological Association describes the stress levels experienced by most Americans as a public health crisis. More than 44% of those surveyed reported moderate to severe stress. That strain can lead to coping behaviors like overeating, binge drinking, and interrupting sleep patterns. It is not a pretty picture.
How did we get here?
God directs, “Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy” Exodus 20:8.
Getting rest and turning to God for renewal is not a suggestion – it is a commandment, yet it is one that we break more than any other. I wonder if we think some commandments are optional or if we assign them degrees of importance. No, I won’t murder anyone. But take a Sabbath rest? Maybe another time…
Jesus beckons, “Come unto me all who are weary and heavy burdened and I will give you rest” Matthew 11:28.
We all received the invitation. Why are we not RSVP’ing? Have we pinned a virtual “save the date” on our refrigerators, sure that we’ll get back to God at some point?
God doesn’t ask us to work ourselves into exhaustion. God doesn’t require that we go it alone, steadfastly relying solely on our own strength and abilities. In fact, God is continually offering comfort, strength, and support.
What would Sabbath look like to you? For me, a symbol of Sabbath is having time for a second cup of tea. I’m a big tea drinker. Usually I only have time for one hurried cup as I perch on my chair, reading the newspaper (yes, I still do that), as I eat my yogurt and prepare to rush off to work. My mornings are a study in multi-tasking – doing the dishes while I wait for the water to boil, feeding the cats as the tea steeps, tucking away dishes as I assemble my breakfast. It is not what one might call relaxed.
Having enough time for two cups of tea means that my pace has slowed down enough to really enjoy it. Slurping tea out of a travel mug balanced precariously in my car while bouncing along the back roads of Woodstock does not count.
Sabbath doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t even all have to happen on one particular day. Sabbath can be
- having the time to notice the array of flowers that are blooming right now
- indulging in a good book
- listening to birds twittering in the trees
- taking time to write in my journal
- taking time to pray about the joys and concerns in my life
Sabbath means slowing down and unplugging. Perhaps having a blank slate.
Sabbath is opening our hearts, minds, and spirits to God.
Sabbath is saying “yes” to God’s invitation to renewal.
During these summer days, how will you feed your spirit?
How will you enjoy some Sabbath renewal?
Another cup of tea? Why yes, I’d love one.