Thursday, May 23, 2013

Sabbath Rest Not Just for Sunday

I receive Father Ronald Rolheiser’s abridged newsletter twice a week. This week he included a list of things that can be used for Sabbath rest other than Sunday. This list has some wonderful ideas that we should pay attention to. Lord knows we need rest in our over active “human doing” society. Below is the list with some commentary.

1.     Sabbath need not be just one day a week. Sabbath to can be an hour, a walk, a meal, a drink, a chat with a friend. Plan at least one Sabbath-moment every day.

Before my arthritic knees prohibited me from walking, I would do a 40-minute walk every day. Sometimes I meditated, sometimes I prayed, sometimes I listened to music, sometimes I did nothing. Not only did it exercise my body, but it cleared my mind and rested my soul. One of the best things to do.

2.     Every day, even if for just a few minutes, go to some place where you can’t be reached. Cell-phones, email, and electronic communications have made us the most efficient and connected people in history, but they are also making the observance of Sabbath all but impossible. Go regularly to a place where you can’t be reached.

I have always hated a cell phone and how it makes me available 24/7. I only bought one for emergency use. However, I cannot stay away from my email. Some people do not check their work email over weekends. I cannot do that. I am afraid I will get so behind I will never catch up. I am somewhat obsessive with email. I certainly could use time away from email on a regular basis.

3.     Honor the wisdom of dormancy, know that when you aren’t doing something that is productive you are giving your soul the time and space it needs to quietly take in the nutrients it requires to remain productive. Buy a rocking chair and sit in it regularly, not thinking, not praying, not talking to a friend, just sitting, your soul a fallow field that is quietly waiting.

Since I cannot walk, I have taken to sit on our back patio every morning for at least a half hour. I watch the birds who scold me, I watch the rabbits frolicking in the lawn, I watch the sun come up and the passing weather systems. I can’t say that I don’t think, because I do, but like those walks that I had taken earlier, this activity is rest for my soul.

4.     Spend some time in quiet and prayer regularly.

Try to do this regularly. Centering prayer especially.

5.     Be attentive to little children, old people, family, food, wine, and the weather. All of these are non-pragmatic and Sabbath-invoking.
Love little children. Have learned to love elderly in our congregation through pastoral care activities.

6.     Live by the axiom: If not now, when? If not here, where? If not with these people, with whom? If not for God, why?

I’m not sure I understand this one.

7.     Stay in touch with and listen to your body. It will tell you when you need Sabbath.

When I feel my body tense up, I use sacred breathing to relax myself.

8.     Drink a glass or two of red wine most days, preferably with others.

An interesting inclusion on this list. Points to the value of relaxing and relationships. I’ve done this too often alone.

9.       Don’t nurse grudges and obsessions, they, more than anything else, will keep you tired and tense.

Truly a spiritual discipline of the highest order. Normally as one matures, holding grudges does not hold as much power over one. Obsessions are not so easy. Even doing this list of “Sabbath rest” can become obsessive. We need to learn to hold everything lightly.

 Do you have any other ideas for daily Sabbath that you can add to Rolheiser’s list?

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