Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Fullness Part 2: Well Rested

It's spring and baseball is in full-swing (punny, I know). Major League Baseball has been cranked up for about a month now. Teams and fans are beginning to get into a rhythm and set their lineups. One position always seems to change though- starting pitchers. Well, perhaps "change" isn't accurate, rotation is more correct terminology. MLB teams typically operate with 5 starting pitchers. This gives each pitcher at least four days of rest between each start. The hope is that with enough rest, their arms will be able to perform at a high level as often as possible for a long season- 162 games (divided by 5 = about 32 games). This, and a book by Dorothy Bass got me to thinking about the concept of rest.

"For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy." Exodus 20:11

In her book Receiving the Day, Dorothy Bass argues for much more than Sabbath. She is concerned with Christian time keeping...or what she expresses is a concern for Christians being kept by time: the next appointment, the panic until the deadline, the filled calendars, etc. But what I found most convicting was the section on Sabbath and rest. I used to be good at taking days off. In fact, I used to say (and still feel this way) that my favorite thing to do is nothing. However, I was usually only able to do this for long periods of time once a month or so.

But Sabbath is more than "doing nothing." It is intentionally breaking to remember who you are - a being made in the image of your Creator, who we believe made all that exists and then took a day of rest, knowing all things to be good. I was convicted by Bass' language of fear as the motivator for our busyness: we're afraid that things will fall apart without us, or that we will fail if we don't spend more time, or that the... The list goes on, and it reveals our flaw of thinking we are self-sufficient, independent beings. God created us to live in this creation. This creation rests, most notably at night and in the season of winter. But as I sit here at 9:55pm, the sun's been down for over 2 hours, I know that I'm about to go back to work on a final paper for the semester, and I realize I still have a lot to learn about the concept of rest and the practice of Sabbath.

The class I read the book for closed every session with evening prayer at 5pm. While I never did live it out, I still love the way one sentence of the prayer puts to words what I'm trying to say: "[God] made the day for the works of light and the night for the refreshment of our minds and our bodies." United Methodist Hymnal, page 878

Related to this failure to rest is my tendency to doze off in chapel or church during prayers or even sermons (I know, it's hard to believe that it happens to seminarians as well!) I also zone out. Bass again points to lack of rest and absence of Sabbath as things that make us easily distracted...or in my case, prone to catch up on them during worship (oops!). So what I suggest (and mostly for myself) is a practice of rest and Sabbath-taking in order to make your (again, my) worship experiences "fuller" and more attentive.