Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Joy Dare, Shabbat, and Slowing Time

Last week we talked about how slowing down enough to notice the gifts in our lives may actually make us feel like we have MORE time. We constantly feel like we don't have the time to stop, notice, and give thanks. And, yet, when we do, we feel somehow as though we've done more, lived more...in fact, had more time. 

Ecclesiastes 4:6 says, "Better is a handful of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind."

Abraham Joshua Heschel said,
"One who wants to enter the holiness of the day must first lay down the profanity of clattering commerce, of being yoked to toil. He must go away from the screech of dissonant days, from the nervousness and fury of acquisitiveness and the betrayal of embezzling his own life. He must say farewell to manual work and learn to understand that the world has already been created and will survive without the help of man."
"The world has already been created..." I cracked a smile at this. Do we really somehow think that everything will cease if we cease our toil? "Better is a handful of quietness..." Why?

I think that when we stop we recognize who we are and who God is. We see that our work will never be done, and yet, that is just fine because God created this whole world for us, and the world is held in existence by God. It is all held together by God. Our work matters, yes. But our connection with God and with each other matters more. When we are quiet, we see God...in creation, in the people around us, in the gifts we have dared to count. And then we can go about our work, mindful of those things.

This practice of quiet, of mindfulness, of ceasing toil isn't easy, I think. So, God made it mandatory. Among the ten commandments we find, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy." (Exodus 20:8) Holy means set apart. We set this day aside. "...the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it, you shall not do any work..." (Exodus 20:10)

The Sabbath Manifesto project (a non-sectarian project, by the way) says it this way:
"Way back when, God said, 'On the seventh day thou shalt rest.'  The meaning behind it was simple: Take a break. Call a timeout. Find some balance. Recharge."

"Somewhere along the line, however, this mantra for living faded from modern consciousness. The idea of unplugging every seventh day now feels tragically close to impossible. Who has time to take time off? We need eight days a week to get tasks accomplished, not six."
Blogger and former YWAM missionary, Andrew Odom, puts it this way,
"We are destroying every sense of our being by not observing a day of rest. Remember the tortoise and the hair? There is a reason we run faster and work harder, but only fall farther behind. Our lives are too hurried, too full, and subsequently too out of balance."
We are not very good at stopping, but it is only in the stopping that we are restored. In the words of Rabbi Wolpe:
"Shabbat means stopping. Pursuit slows and ceases; grasping and getting are no longer our aim. The world still spins but we do not. Balance is restored. We give ourselves a day to celebrate God's giving us a world. Flash and dazzle dim. Meaning slowly ripens. As the poet wrote, peace comes dropping slow. Shabbat Shalom."
Strangely enough, the practice of Shabbat seems to free me all week long. Yes, my work is more productive when I have rested. But, somehow, greater productivity does not equal more frazzled and hurried. Stepping out of the toil once a week teaches me to step into the moments of daily life. And there I can count my thousands of gifts...

1 comment:

  1. What an inspiring post! I love the quotes you used.


It's always good to hear from you!