It seems as though I have been running a marathon since Easter. Usually I am able to slow down after holy week Not so this year. In fact, it feels as though the pace of life has ramped up since then: baptisms, weddings, funerals, confirmation, first communion. Numerous times work events have been held on my days off.
I am feeling it.
How I long for summer sabbath!
How about you? Is summer a time for you to slow down? Rest? Relax? Maybe even take a vacation?
Next week, beginning on June 25, I will be directing some folks who are on a week-long silent retreat. I myself will also be on retreat. If you have never been on a silent retreat, I highly recommend it. It is an opportunity to unplug from everything, and enter the Silence. I belong to a group called, “Friends of Silence.” The motto of this group is, “Is there enough silence for the Word to be heard?” I don’t know about you, but I long for more silence in my life. Everywhere I go, there is noise. Even when I visit our elder members in nursing homes, I notice that often the television is left on in peoples’ rooms, just to provide some background noise. I see people jogging with headphones. I even see people bicycling with headphones. I cannot imagine filling up the silence with noise. Sometimes, when I have a long drive in my car, I never even turn on the radio, but drive for hours in silence. It is in the silence that I hear God speak.
There is a bicycle path just a few miles down the road.
Even our meals are eaten in silence. We speak only twice a day. Once, during daily mass when we share the peace. Once, each day, when you meet with your spiritual director, to share the fruits of your silence.
When I return from this retreat, I will work for one more week, then I will go on vacation for two weeks. My husband Ted and I will be going to Oregon and California, hiking in many of the national parks, and driving down the Oregon/California coast.
Immersing myself deeply in this sacred earth brings me into a place of deep sabbath. It never fails to renew and restore me.
I remember reading that Jesus spent over ninety percent of his time outdoors, but that for most of us Americans the ratio is reversed! This summer, I encourage you to spend time immersed in the beauty and mystery of our Mother Earth.
Tonight, at bible study, we are studying the book of Genesis. In the very beginning of the bible, it tells the story of God creating all that is, and then resting. Sabbath literally means “rest.” For Jews the day of rest is the seventh day of the week. It begins at sundown on Friday, and ends at sundown on Saturday. The idea is that if God needed to rest, so also do we! For Christians the Sabbath day was changed to Sunday, because that is the day Jesus rose from the dead: “On the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb.” John 20:1. In the torah provisions were made to let the land rest also, every seventh year. That is where we get the word “sabbatical.” Those who knew the earth well, knew that it also needs a rest. If you work the earth without letting it rest, you deplete it of its nutrients, and it will not produce to its fullest potential. Do you see a lesson in all of this for us?
I know a colleague who boasts that he never takes a day off. I think others can attest to the fact that he seems exhausted and burned out. Someone who has a healthy balance of work and rest, on the other hand, is much more vital, energized, and productive.
So…as we begin this season of summer, I encourage you to take a sabbath. Each week, be sure to take at least one day to rest and replenish your spirit. During these warm summer months, immerse yourself in this sacred earth and let it restore and rejuvenate you. Take that longed for vacation, even if you spend it relaxing at home, or exploring your own environs.
Remember the sabbath, and keep it holy.
Photos: Linda’s morning prayer at beach in Nova Scotia; Linda Nova Scotia; Ted, Nova Scotia; Our Lady of Calvary Retreat House, Farmington, CT; Chapel at Our Lady of Calvary; Bicycle Path, Farmington, CT; California Coast, Torrey Pines, San Diego, CA; bTed resting during bicycle ride in Maui; Te in Denny’s garden, Alexandria, PA; Linda at pomegranate orchards, Turkey; Ted and Iznik, Newport, RI