Some of my colleagues have been bemoaning the fact that “news” from our United Church General Council office has been all about protocols and pragmatics during this time of pandemic lockdown (and now limited re-openings). What they are not hearing and missing is some theology for such times and circumstances.
The Anglican bishops of Canada did issue a pastoral epistle focused on the blessing of sabbath time which this current situation affords us. The Presbyterian church leadership, I believe, focused on how we sustain caring community, live love, and uphold and promote faith.
Some clergy in Canada and America are discovering that they are working more not less during this time. Not very good sabbath practice, and stressful with regards to self-care. I suspect many of those who are working from home may also be finding the daily balancing of tasks to be more like a pressure-cooker than a slow-cooker. Multi-tasking during these times is not recommended by numerous spiritual and mental health advisors. Staying focused on one task at a time by following a priority list for each day is far better. Taking stretch, exercise, personal conversation breaks between tasks is also important.
Sabbath time is about restfulness, mindful pacing of activity, offering oneself times of stillness and solitude, time-outs for personal reflection on faith and life and self-awareness. Being is as valuable as doing. Creation has been grateful for the sabbath she has been receiving from high levels of pollution, noise, interference, exploitation, and disrespect. Human beings would do well to see these times as opportunity for sabbath restfulness and mindfulness as well as crisis.
What have you been up to that’s been more restful, less hectic, more soulful? What have you been doing for your own self-care, wellness, and spiritual growth? Where have you found joy in taking time for new ventures, new discoveries, slower processes, time out for reading, listening to music, something creative, exercise, contemplation? I was intrigued by a suggestion from one source that we could take time to feed our inner child by: a camping out in the backyard with our own children or grandchildren, or hosting a slow-paced day camp day with them. If children or grandchildren aren’t available to us, perhaps we might find some animated movie features to enjoy, read some children’s books, go on our own nature walk where we turn over rocks, explore life in a pond, build a lean-to from fallen sticks and branches. That’s the idea behind the suggestion, you and I can create our own versions of it.
“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
And on the seventh day God finished the work that God had done
and God rested on the seventh day from all that work.” (Genesis 2:1-2)
Bearing in mind that a “day” on God’s calendar is akin to “a thousand ages”, that’s a good, long, soulful rest. If it’s healthful and good for God to do so, so can it be for us for a length of days as well. Blessed sabbath.