June 10, 2010
insights, quotes and notes from the book::
SABBATH: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller
(read my review HERE)
The Chinese pictograph for “busy” is composed of two characters: heart and killing. If that is not a poignant reminder of what happens to the human mind, body and soul when consumed by the chaos of life, I don’t know what is. (pg. 3)
“What makes life fruitful? The attainment of wisdom? The establishment of a just and fair society? The creation of beauty? The practice of loving kindness?” Was it not American Statesman Thomas Jefferson who so eloquently suggested that all mankind had a right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Are not the three “intimately” intertwined?
what is life? but a passing wind - a storm of busyness lived at a speed beyond comprehension - where in the end, most of the meaningful things are missed, forgotten or neglected? Was life meant to be lived at such a dizzying pace?
“While Sabbath can refer to a single day of the week, Sabbath can also be a far-reaching, revolutionary tool for cultivating those precious human qualities that grow only in time.”
Busyness can become violently unfruitful. Sabbath time is effortless, providing nourishing rest that brings fruitful healing. (pg. 4-5)
“Sabbath time is time off the wheel, time when we take our hand from the plow and let God and the earth care for things, while we drink, if only for a few moments, from the fountain of rest and delight.” (pg. 8)
Can not Sabbath be a time of refuge... can it become a Sanctuary of sorts? Sabbath can become a protector against an information overload of 500 channels, social media devices, handheld electronic gadgets and the like. Could it not shield us from multiple platform advertising techniques that tell us to do this, buy that, you need this, eat that?
Sabbath invites us to disconnect. and be free. Sabbath invites us to find comfort in simplicity; to rest in the presence of God; to seek nothingness and to discover delight that comes with it.
Practice: Begin your Sabbath by lighting a candle. Take a few breaths and allow the mind to quiet. Feel the tension leave the body. Recognize the sacredness of the moment. (pg. 21)
Examples of Jesus taking time to rest and pray:
Mark 1:32-33; 35-36
Jesus didn’t wait for everything to be done first - before retreating to quiet places to pray and rest. Jesus “obeyed a deeper rhythm.” (pg. 25)
He invited the disciples to do the same. Again - he did not wait for them to finish the task at hand. “Come with me. Let go, and rest, and pray.”
“to pray” is sometimes translated as “to come to rest”
Practice: turn things off. Electronic devises, etc. give them a rest for a period of time during Sabbath.
Another way to practice Sabbath is to fellowship with friends and family over a meal. To keep the work on the lighter side, have the meal be a ‘hands on’ meal - like “Make Your Own Tacos, Ice cream Sunday bar, Make your own Sandwiches, etc. The goal is to make it less work for the host and more enjoyable for those sharing in the meal. (pg. 33)
“Do not wait to enjoy the harvest of your life; you are already blessed. The kingdom of God is already here. It is within you and among you.” (pg. 43)
Part of Sabbath is taking notice of blessings around you.
Practice: Have elders lay hands on youth as a way to ‘bless them’.
Parents may also place hands on their children and pray a prayer of ‘blessing’ and ‘thanksgiving’ upon them.
“Let them feel the truth of your prayer in their bodies.” (pg. 46)
Practice: Take a walk in silence. intentional silence. choose some time for a walk, bike ride or hike and intentionally be silent. Notice what arrises in silence: the impulses to speak, the need to judge or respond to what you see, hear and feel. Notice discomfort that will no doubt arise when you get the urge to speak. Learn to delight in silence. It can become a genuine time of safe sanctuary. (pg. 55-56)
Practice: take a 30 minute Spirit Walk. Let your soul catch up with you. Let your senses guide your walk. if outside, notice the color, the smells, the beauty often missed. What do you become drawn to? If you feel the urge to stop and investigate, do so freely. After 30 minutes, notice what happens to your body and soul and mind - as well as your sense of time. (pg. 70)
[side note: on the day i read this section of the book - i was outside - sitting in the shade, on a calm, cool late-spring evening. my daughter picked a very tiny flower of some sort. i placed it in the book, in between the pages. It has reminded me of the simple things that are often missed.]
“Sabbath challenges the theology of progress by reminding us that we are already and always on sacred ground. The gifts of grace and delight are present and abundant; the time to live and love and give thanks and rest and delight is now, this moment, this day. Feel what heaven is like; have a taste of eternity. Rest in the arms of the divine. We do not have miles to go before we sleep. The time to sleep, to rest, is now. We are already home.” (pg. 79)
“be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.”
Sabbath requires surrender. (pg. 82)
Practice: Lectio Divina. a way to reflect and meditate upon the Word of God. (pg. 92)
Seize the Day. The story on pages 103-107 about how W.K. Kellogg shortened the work week starting in 1930 is fascinating. Productivity and moral sky-rocketed during the time of great depression. Why? Happy, rested employees worked less, got paid more and the rest is/was history.
Time was more valuable than money. Unfortunately, after 50+ years of running the Kellogg Cereal business that way, people changed. Money began to become more valuable than time - and Kellogg’s shorter work day and work week ended.
“The endless expansion of desire, as the Buddha noted 2500 years ago, is a fatal, impossible folly.” (pg. 131)
Practice: be creative. write a poem about nothing of any importance. rip out pictures in a magazine. plant a flower. take a walk around the block. sing a song you know from heart - from beginning to end. do something simple and playful every day.
“Let the power of a simple act of creativity stop you, slow your pace, interrupt your speed. Notice how willing you are to be stopped. Notice how it feels when you are.” (pg. 145-146)
“The Sabbath prohibitions restrict those things that would impede our sensuality.” (pg. 151)
When Jesus was tempted in the desert he was tempted to be “useful, important and powerful” (insight from Henri Nouwen).
Compare our temptations to be useful, important and powerful with the teachings of Jesus (and the saints) to show kindness, to act humbly, invisibly and quietly.
“Mother Teresa reminded us, we do no great things, only small things with great love.”
Blessing or disaster? Blessings often turn to disasters and disasters often turn to blessing. “the changes have no end, nor can the mystery be fathomed.” (pg. 187-188)
Practice: Give away gifts. (pg. 208)
The book concludes with an entire section on how to live out a Sabbath through various ways, including ideas for how to start and how to keep it going. All in all Wayne Muller does an excellent, extensive job painting a large landscape of a picture of what Sabbath looks like, feels like, smells like, tastes like and sounds like. What a beautifully practical book. I am eager to try many of his suggestions. I can only hope that my strides to rearrange priority will no doubt take shape in my life. I am eager for change. I am excited to slow down. I am also excited to share ‘sabbath’ with others. God commands that we take sabbath. it is the one commandment that is broken with great regularity in the Christian world. I aim to reclaim that aspect of life.