I’m back from 2 weeks of vacation, and incredibly thankful for the gift of unplugging and stepping away from work. Mostly I was at home just relaxing, but I also got away for a 3-night silent retreat at Trinity Center.
I did so much thinking and reflecting during my time away. One of the things I thought about was God’s command for us all to take sabbath. We are to regularly step away from the work of our lives, and rest.
There are many reasons God commands sabbath, and one that particularly struck me during this vacation and this season in our world is this: When we take sabbath, we are reminded how our lives depend on others.
In this time of COVID, so many of us are doing all we can to keep up with our jobs, ensure our children are learning, offering emotional support to our families and friends, worrying about those who are or might become sick, and more. Our houses that are lived in 24/7 need more cleaning, and meal prep never seems to stop.
It’s a lot. And we can easily get drawn into the idea that It’s All Up To Us. One of the things that Sabbath Time offers is practice in asking for help. It gives us a chance to give up doing All The Things, and instead humbly accept help from others.
For me, that meant asking: Jim and Susan to be on-call for pastoral concerns; Laura and Kaye to post things to our Facebook page; Kathy to send out emails; Eileen to cover Wednesday Prayer & Share; Eileen and Amy to be on call for any decision making, and more.
I had to hand my work over to seven others (plus handing parenting work over to Shawn when I was on silent retreat) in order for me to rest. Asking for help felt humbling and vulnerable and at times like I “wasn’t strong enough.” And you know, that’s exactly what I should have felt. Sabbath is a reminder that in fact we aren’t strong enough ourselves, that we are vulnerable, and that humility can be grounding and centering.
One of the sabbath time activities I’ve been doing is a one-month daily gratitude art journal. On the day I returned to work, the prompt was to draw a symbol of your job as you offer gratitude for your work. The above image came to me. Before my time away, I was so worn down that “my chalice” was almost too heavy to hold and felt half-empty. Because of my time away, this chalice has lightened, become half-full and has much to share.
Making time for sabbath is important for many reasons. During the days of the pandemic, it can seem nearly impossible to take. But God wants this for you. You were not created for months of intensity without a break. What does your soul need to be strengthened and renewed? How many people can you reach out to, who will take a piece of your responsibility so that you can have rest?
Practice asking for help. Practice sabbath.