This is an image from Prague. I took the photo walking from my home, into the city the day I was hit by a train. I remember, now, how hard I was working to see Prague - how hard I was working to see every museum, every park, every castle, every palace, every market - I was destroying my Sabbath by "working hard" at Sabbath. And it nearly killed me. Literally. And left me without two of my five senses.
Indeed, God did not hit me with a train. I stepped out in front of one with my exhaustion because I was working so hard to explore when I could have rested some between museums. Now food tastes like wax and I am left to live without flavor forever.
Rest is very important. Rest is despised by a culture bent on work which earns money.
Our culture agrees with the words over the Auschwitz doors "Work will set you free."
It will not. It will kill you. In whatever form you find it.
Sabbath is the pathway to the fields in which God lays in the sun waiting to be with us. But we must walk the pathway that leads through the proverbial woods of the many tree-like tasks which so seduce us from the commandment to take rest with God.
Are we courageous enough to walk the pathways which lead through our “to-do-list forests” to that distant field in which God rolls in the cool grass under a hot sun like my Dog Kai and smiles?
But so many of us, especially church leaders, are self-worshippers. We believe that if we rest, the worlds and work in which we live will unravel without us there to hold it all together like little gods playing with our toys as if they are kingdoms. One who prays, really prays, and listens, and keeps their Sabbath Holy can tell, at a glance, which clergy are faking Sabbath. And prayers, for that matter. And the irony is that they think we cannot see.
But do not try to keep Sabbath Holy if you are lacking in courage. It takes great courage to put down cell phones and alcohol, impressive work products and television and Facebook feeds to simply be in silence and rest with a God who would like to chat. A God who is both shy and vulnerable. And patient.
What would it be like to set down our cell phones and to-do lists and walk through those woods to where God awaits us in fullness.
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.
It stuns me that we so rigidly keep doing the Eucharist over and over, like little liturgical terrorists, absolutely sure that this way or that way is right. Repeating it week after week with our liturgical toys, wielding rubrics like bricks. And yet, when it comes to keeping Sabbath Holy, we are terrified of what that silence and stillness might reveal – so we self-anesthetize with busy-ness in order not to have to face our God, stripped naked of all our vestments and hymns – nothing left between us but breath and exposing love.
It may seem that life is unraveling around us. Change in church, change in families, change in bodies - change is hard. But in real rest, real silence, real Sabbath, we are with a God who shows us the new pathways if only we will sit alone with God in the silence long enough to listen.
If we choose a new Dean for our cathedral it will be a disaster. If we sit with God and discern a new Dean for our cathedral in silence and prayer, begging God for God's perspective and not falling pray to the self-worship which says "I can see and I know best!" then we have a chance for the unraveling to be a precursor for the kind of divine change which will save our cathedral and even save our city and her people.
The future of our cathedral depends on prayer, not choices. As does the future of our very lives. If we keep the Sabbath Holy and use it to listen to a God trying to speak to us, we have a chance to thrive.
May God so incline us in these noisy and busy days.
The Daily Sip will now take Sabbath Rest until August when it will resume after the Canon Steward keeps a Holy Sabbath (which our secular culture names "vacation.")
The Daily Sip will resume August 1, 2016.