This week there were more e-mails coming in than there was time to respond. There were lots of meetings on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday—and these were the kind of meetings that add to your “to do” list, rather take things away. In the spaces between the e-mails and the meetings, there are several large projects, each one requiring lots of time, each one having some looming deadlines.
Every person is different, but this is not my favorite kind of week. The rhythm of restoration and output isn’t balanced in these kind of weeks, so that by the end, I’m feeling very tired and uncreative, and the looming projects stare at me while I turn in my bed – unable to bite into them even though I know I must. What’s a body to do? Something entirely counter-intuitive:
My very best friend and I rise Friday morning, and are on the road by 8:30, heading north. We have a little tiny place up there by the border that, in cold times like these, sits on the edge between snow and rain. Once north, we stop at Trader Joe’s for food, and while my best friend loads up her basket with salads, yogurt, eggs and more, I wander in to the sport shop that’s next door in search of a mug, and end up buying new ski boots instead, to replace the one’s I bought for $25 dollars at an REI garage sale 15 years ago. The old ones, favorite though they are, have grown tired enough to be dangerous. The conversations with the owner of the shop about his days working in Seattle, along with his thorough knowledge of ski boots, make me want to buy here. Our negotiated sale price make me want to buy now. Hello, new boots! I’ll see you on the slopes.
We arrive at the cabin and while it heats up from the low 40’s to a toasty 50-something, we cook omelets and then sit by the warm fire, eating and talking:
“I have some thoughts about a new book…”
“What does it mean that I still love teaching young adults, love writing more than ever, still love the church where I’m privileged to serve? What does it mean that we have enough wealth to buy new ski boots, and how do we hold our wealth properly? We’ve been given so much. How are we to steward the gifts of health, time, leadership, for God’s purposes?”
There are conversations about my wife’s plan to graduate from college one year from June, after leaving school before finishing some 30 years ago, because she was crazy in love with a guy whose work was taking him to California. I love her, and am proud of her. And there are more conversations too—rich, personal, restorative, ranging from vision for ministry, to how to insulate the attic.
All the conversations, it seems, have to do with how we use our gifts—of time, body, resources. We’ve a sense that we’re incredibly blessed, and want our lives to mean something in this emerging season.
Then it’s time. Our goal is to drive up to the end of road, at the Mt. Baker ski area, where we’ll go up: best friend on snowshoes, and me on touring skis. Once there though, at the end of the road, we realize that if we do what we came to do, we’ll need to put chains on to get back to the cabin because it’s snowing big time, a couple inches an hour it seems. We elect to visit a lower path, a level one, a cross country ski zone where we can both be moderately happy and still get some exercise.
The rhythm of motion and breathing
conspiring to propel our bodies
into the forest sanctuary
When I stop and think about it
I give thanks realizing
this day is a gift of grace
a reminder that beyond
there is a glorious world
while we fight our battles
(national and personal)
and inviting us to
This is Sabbath, and when I practice it, I’m restored. That God gives us such a gift in His vision for how to live fully human lives amazes me. That religion could take such a marvelous gift and so subvert and pervert it that it becomes an institutional power tool sickens me. The Sabbath remains available as a perpetual reminder that, once we stop working for a bit and pay attention to what’s out there, we can see that our world is still beautiful, that seasons still happen, that God has given us many gifts. Thank God for the sabbath, but do more than give thanks—practice it please.