Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Sabbath

After a week with the Beve, it's always a sharp re-entry when he has to return to work.  Tonight I'm sitting alone because he had to go back to work.  Responsibility didn't wait but piled up on his desk while he was playing in the sun.  Shoot, those piles seem to multiply in the night while only the custodians are in the school.  I wonder if they unlock Beve's door and blow a vacuum in, causing the havoc I've seen a time or two.  It's an explanation Beve would find solace in...rather than the idea that it's his own 'filing system' that causes such chaos.

But either way, he has a whole lot on his plate now--er, make that his desk--and the stress has instantly reappeared on his face.  Kids, teachers, parents, administrators all waiting for him, with expectations and demands.

That's the way life works, isn't it?  While we relax and feast and swim, the world doesn't wait.  We let the tension of our life drift away on the tides, but, like the tides, it comes waving back in to wash over us the moment we step back in the door of our actual lives.  Last week was like time out of time, a space apart, but our real lives didn't disappear just because we were out of cell phone range. Nope, sorry to say, none of it disappears.

Six days you shall labor, God told Adam.  And on the seventh day, on the Sabbath, rest.  It doesn't mean that there is no work to be done, just that we are intentionally allowing that work to wait, while we focus our attention on rest.  I look at this last week and think of it as the Sabbath rest God calls us to, a time to focus our attention on other than work  Focus on ourselves, the natural creation and the holiest of other, the Creator.  Every week, He calls us to set aside a luxury of time to step out of our natural order, to worship, to rest--to be with Him.

But holidays--vacations--can also be sabbath.  They should be!  So the question I have for myself as I sit alone while Beve paws through his responsibilities across town is--did last week honor Him?  Was it vacation or was it a holy Sabbath?  Looking back, there were moments that were as holy as moments come, one in particular. The last night we were in Mexico, as we walked the path winding through the pools at the resort, I felt God touch my shoulder, and tell me to let down the walls I'd kept up all week.  I went to Mexico NOT wanting to talk about the writing grief in my life.  And that desire was honored by Beve and our friends.  By God as well, I think.  But with the tap on my shoulder, He nudged me to speak.  Even if it hurt.

And it did hurt.  More than I expected.  When I finally fully broke down, as I haven't in the last month, that pain caused an awkward silence between us.  Me sniffling, muttering that it was stupid be be crying in public (a typical reaction for me--I really much prefer to do my crying in the shower where no one sees or knows).  But even in the awkwardness, I felt God's presence.  In Beve's touch on my arm, I felt Him, in our friends' unwillingness to speak platitudes or cliches.  In the simple being with me they all were--I felt the Holy presence of God in that.  Sitting at an outdoor Mexican restaurant, the pool lights changing color behind us, I was, suddenly, unexpectedly, experiencing Sabbath rest, and Sabbath worship. Where He is, when He is--at an outdoor table, or in a hushed church--worship is inevitable.  And I felt exactly what He meant Sabbath to make us feel--refreshed and restored. Nothing essentially changed from that moment.  My book is still sitting in an ash heap, my future still murky and painful. And He never promised otherwise.  He doesn't give us Sabbaths in order to miraculously 'fix' whatever went wrong during the week. But that isn't even the point.  Though I'd love to have Him fix my life, what I need more is to for Him to be present in whatever life I have.  So I take joy in such Sabbath rest, and ask Him to work it in me as I press forward into the next season, no matter what it brings.

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