Sometimes, it’s just a quiet day. You and I both know that. Just as we have days that seemed to be packed to the gills with things to get done, chores to do, appointments to keep, there are also those days when, as far as we are concerned, the world has taken the foot off the gas, and we are coasting through this 24-hour period. Now, that doesn’t mean the world itself has slowed down! For some folks, the very same day will be filled from top to bottom with all sorts of “stuff” that take up our time and our lives.
When I woke up this morning, I did a quick review of what was ahead for me today. Yesterday, I took boxes over to the recycle, and shopped for the week’s groceries, and filled up the car and did a number of other errands that ate up most of the afternoon. The day before, the repair person came over and fixed our ice maker, and I made a delicious Chinese dish that I had never made before, that was met with rave reviews from the household.
But this morning, the list was pretty short in terms of things to do, or to experience. Yes, I need to replace some light bulbs, and I need to get the trash gathered from around the house to go out tomorrow morning. And then I … have really nothing else to do. It’s just one of those days when the to—do list seems almost non-existent, and I have no new projects I’m working on.
That’s probably good, because for some reason, I don’t feel like I have much “gas in my tank.” My motivation to go and do a bunch of work has vanished for the day. My “retirement” gene is kicking in pretty strongly, and I really and truly could just spend the day sitting around. On the other hand, the world seems to not be asking a lot of me today, either. It doesn’t have a lot for me to do in order to make it seems as though my life is critically important, at least in terms of getting stuff done. I have no phone calls to return, no emails to answer, and outside of going to pick Cheri up from work at 5pm, I don’t expect I’ll drive anywhere. I’ll most likely go get the mail from the end of the driveway, but I don’t see myself leaving the house otherwise.
Sounds pretty lazy, doesn’t it? And maybe it is. However, if I want to get theological, and think about God, then perhaps today is an unexpected Sabbath. The Sabbath has always been that day when the activity and the hum of business ceases, at least for the day. God says, “Can you just stop for a little while, and recover, and not have to do what you think you have to do in order to feel as though you make a difference in the world?” I have always imagined that, on the Sabbath, you and I are given the opportunity to be “holy idle.” The to-do lists go away for the day. Of course, if there are things you like to do, then enjoy that time, but don’t deceive yourself by saying, “Well, I just love to vacuum and dust and clean out the garage.” That’s not Sabbath – that’s pretending. And also don’t think that you can just do a “Sabbath moment,” that somehow, when you stop at the traffic light for 30 seconds before you fly to your next appointment, you are in Sabbath mode.
I’ve always imagined Sabbath as the day – and I think you take an entire day (I know that that’s a long time, when you think of all the things you “need” to do) – when in the course of your life, you take the time to breathe in once again. You see, for most of our lives, we literally “exhaust” ourselves, as we breathe out more and more and more, accomplishing and giving and doing battle with and on and on – we become truly exhausted, and when we keep it up without a time to recoup, we end up wearing ourselves out, burning ourselves out, and resenting even the world around us for making us work so hard just to live.
Sabbath gives us “inspiration.” We are called deep within our hearts to breathe in, to reclaim the life-giving and heart-mending atmosphere. Some of us, however, have been working so hard for so long that the idea of a Sabbath fills us with fear. What would I do for a whole day if I wasn’t doing a normal day? Certainly I could work in the morning, and then take a little time in the afternoon, right? Go ahead. Do what you want to do, but don’t call it a Sabbath. Call it self-deceit.
Or, you could take the day, and fill it with healing and en-joy-ment. You might find room for an important conversation with someone, or to read that book that you have been wanting to get to. Waste some time, as you linger over a cup of coffee, and do nothing more than watch that little rabbit nibble the ends off your plants. Think about those significant parts of your life that may have been neglected for a while. Have that bowl of ice cream, take that walk with a stroll and not a march. And every now and then, take a deep breath, and remember that your life is precious and cherished not because of what you do, but because God has made you, and finds incredible delight simply in the fact that you are alive.
So – it’s a quiet Wednesday for me. Not a Sunday, but still a Sabbath. You know, I’ll bet those light bulbs can wait until tomorrow… I have some time-wasting to do… I hope you’ll find some time as well.
Saying for the day: Holding onto anger is like drinking poison, and expecting the other person to die. Another way to think about it, is when we try to keep another person imprisoned by their past mistakes, we end up locking ourselves in the cell as well…
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.