The Sabbath

Everything about this time of year points to the simple reminder that we’re called to rest.  The deciduous trees shed their colors, going out in a blaze of glory before resting.  The “raised beds” which provide for families so marvelously all summer are covered over, and the soil rests.  The alarm goes off in the morning and, if we’ve the liberty to do so, we open ours and see the dark, turn over, and catch more zzz’s.

I come home from days of meetings in the summer, and often want to go do a little local climbing, or walk around the lake by my house.  But up here in our relatively northern part of the world, where darkness comes very early these days, I come home and, by the time we’re eating supper, all my wife and I want to do is linger at the table, with candlelight and wine, or freshly brewed tea, conversation, even silence.  The season does more than grant permission to rest; it invites rest.

I’m writing this morning before the domestic to-do list takes over: some financial stuff, some e-mails that need to be answered, some travel plans for a trip to visit my 90-year-old mom in California.  But nature shouts “don’t miss me,” cries “learn from my rhythm,” and I know that, after writing this, and eating a quick breakfast, I’ll hop on my bike and ride down to the Japanese Garden, or over to Discovery Park, camera in tow, and sit with creation.

I know I’ll do this because there’s a sermon I desperately need to hear through the changing of the seasons, some lessons I need to learn again, or for the first time.  I also know that I’ll try to systematize what I learn, so that I can teach about it, write about it.  But then I’m reminded of Romans 8 and the notion that there are times when our longings, our prayers, and even our learnings, are deeper than our own consciousness.

Sometimes encounters just change us, and it’s enough to let ourselves be changed.  That’s why the most important thing in life isn’t that we’re able to draw a straight line between every encounter with a Bible verse, or sunset, or work of art, or loss, or love — and lesson learned.  We might not be able to articulate the moral to the story.  That’s OK.  More important than the moral of the story, is the learning to simply show up and pay attention.  Fall is screaming at us: “Slow down.  Rest. Pay attention!”

If we can’t pay attention to the rhythms of creation in these October days, at least in my part of the world, there’s something tragically wrong with our souls.  Jesus calls those who can see “blessed.” Be blessed today friend… by paying attention to God’s invitation.

About Richard Dahlstrom

As Pastor of Bethany Community Church in Seattle, Richard teaches with vision of "making the invisible God visible" by calling people to acts of service and blessing. It's working, as a wilderness ministry, homeless shelter, and community meals that serve those living on the margins are all pieces of Bethany's life. "We're being the presence of Christ" he says, "and inviting everyone to join the adventure." Many have, making Bethany one of the fastest growing churches in America in 2009 according to Outreach Magazine.

  • http://jpothen.com jpothen

    “Sometimes encounters just change us, and it’s enough to let ourselves be changed.”

    Amen. And it keeps us from taking a profound experience and turning it into a cheesy greeting card quote.

  • http://jpothen.com jpothen

    “Sometimes encounters just change us, and it’s enough to let ourselves be changed.”

    Amen. And it keeps us from taking a profound experience and turning it into a cheesy greeting card quote.