This post is going up a day late (as if anyone would notice that:) because I have been busily preparing for some time away. One of the most important lessons I have learned about taking a weekly sabbath and also working an annual rhythm that includes deep restful periods is that preparation is critical, neither of these restorative times will come at random or without intention. If one wishes to find time to pause one just prepare for such time.
My dad used to manage banks. You know, the places people used to go to in order to perform monetary transactions, before ATMs and phones, and whatnot made the bank a place few of us ever step in. Even so, banks are big, they have huge assets, incredible numbers of employees and generally speaking a lot going on. My dad used to tell me he found it funny whenever someone would look sheepish about quitting. People would leave the bank and he would have to convince them it was okay. He would remind them the bank existed long before that particularly employee arrived and would continue to exist into the future (I am sure he said it nicely). That might sound cold but it is actually liberating. There is very little any of us do that no one else can do. While there is much advice to be offered about finding what only you can do and sticking to it and using that to clear your schedule and such, that is not where I am going with this.
I am about to take some time off with the family so I am thinking about rest, sabbath, and refreshment. Like every year as I leave there are matters left dangling, jobs undone, projects halted mid-stream. I don’t like this, I grew up in schools with semesters and everything being wrapped up, as in there was literally nothing to be worked on while I was enjoying Christmas holidays, or summer holidays. Still, I am getting used to it, this adult version of time off. It’s an important humbling practice to step away and know that the church and other major non-familial commitments in my life have been a round a long before I arrived and will be there a long while after I go. Taking time off has a way of putting work into perspective, and putting my own value into perspective as well.
Dorothy Bass puts it this way, “To act as if the world cannot get along without our work for one day in seven is a startling display of pride that denies the sufficiency of our generous Maker.” To take time away, then, is an act of trust. Trust of the employees and volunteers who will keep things going, and trust in God that He will continue with His oversight and provision.
The weekly sabbath, and for those of us blessed enough to enjoy them, the longer breaks, are not merely about freezies, boat rides, beers by the lake, or whatever you do with your time off (some people apparently like to ruin perfectly good walk by golfing!) but they are about properly calibrating our lives, our place in the cosmos, bringing us to humility and gratitude towards God. Whether you take a longer or shorter break, I would invite you to spend a bit of time each day reflecting on the ways God is blessing you and the places you spend your time.
Enjoy the Summer!