Friday, September 27, 2013

Sabbath?

Last night at school I explored the commandment of remembering the Sabbath, in the Hebrew.  Some people might not find much value in studying Hebrew, but it has enlightened a lot of things for me in scripture.  One of the things is the Sabbath.  God makes it really clear in the original language that we are supposed to remember (in Exodus) or keep (in Deuteronomy) the Sabbath because it keeps it holy OR in another way of looking at the word because the Sabbath is already holy.

I'm a seminary student and I totally own that I give the Sabbath little or no regard.  I do whatever it is that I need to do on that day.  I don't necessarily believe that the Sabbath has to be a particular day of the week, but I have totally abandoned the notion of rest.  I am not keeping/remembering or making anything holy and rest is a laughable concept in my life.

There's a rub here.  Some people would say, well that doesn't really matter because the Sabbath was an Old Testament idea anyway and we're part of the New Testament or the new covenant anyway, so it's inconsequential.  I disagree with that.  I think there is value in taking a day off to remember God.  Practice his presence.  Not do any work.  Heck, I believe not cooking one day a week could be a very good thing.

BUT, how?  How do I do that in my life?  I simply don't have the time.  If I'm not doing some type of work all of my waking hours it won't all get done.  Even with my best focus and my most productive weeks I still now drop balls on a daily basis.

My professor had an insight into this that I appreciated.  The Sabbath isn't really about remembering God, it's about trusting him.  A current doctoral student herself, an adjunct professor, a daughter of an ill father who she cares for and a wife herself, she understands what it means to simply not have the time to do nothing.  Or at least it feels like doing nothing.  I mean really do we feel like sitting around singing hymns and reading our Bibles is gaining us anything when we're living in a world that is pushing us constantly to achieve. We feel like that is doing nothing.  We want to produce.  There are to do list items that need to be checked off, a honey do list that the spouse is nagging me about and somehow I need to write that paper or purchase scout uniforms.  We simply don't have time for this doing nothing crap.

There's the other side of the coin for those of us who struggle to get to church, feel guilty about not going, scream at the kids to get them there or just hate being there because we're restless to get home and get stuff done..  Church feels like one more morning to wake up early and have to be somewhere in the week.  Or it feels like one more part of the rat race we're already on and frankly we want off.  The hamster wheel is spinning too fast and it's easier to meet God in bed with the Sunday paper and a cup of coffee while the kids are watching cartoons.

How in this life do we remember and keep the Sabbath?  What makes it holy?  Are we totally lost in our attempt to set it apart like God asks us too?

I would offer this.  Maybe, maybe it's not about being at a specific place on a specific day.  Maybe it's not about not doing certain things for a 24 hour period.  Maybe the Sabbath is something else entirely.  Maybe it's a trusting and leaning in to God.  It's a release from the pressures of life and an intentional turning over of them for a while.  It's a walking away from the hamster wheel life has us on and it's a pause.

Sometimes I find my Sabbath in making pancakes in the kitchen with my kids on a Saturday.  Something I don't think I have time for, but I stop, I get off the wheel and I lean into relationship.  As I lean back on my creator and trust that the papers will get written, the hours will get logged at work and the house won't really matter if it's not clean.

Other times I find my Sabbath sitting alone pondering my purpose and God's beauty.  And sometimes my Sabbath is in the conversation with a good friend.

God's resting commandment isn't meant to be a burden.  Going to church to worship isn't supposed to be a chore.

The Sabbath is a relief, it's a rest.  Find your way to the rest God has for you.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Descending to Sit with David

I have been embarrassed at the level with which my thoughts have descended over the last few days. Embarrassed that I still don't have it 'together' completely. Frustrated that all the moving parts in my life lead to my innate awareness that life is not something I can control. And then I came to this Psalm sent by a friend and I realized David felt exactly how I feel. 

May those who seek my life be embarrassed and humiliated! May those who plan to harm me be turned back and ashamed! Let destruction take them by surprise! Let the net they hid catch them! Let them fall into destruction! 
They repay me evil for the good I have done; I am overwhelmed with sorrow. O Lord, how long are you going to just stand there and watch this? Rescue me from their destructive attacks; guard my life from the young lions! For they do not try to make peace with others, but plan ways to deceive those who are unsuspecting. Rouse yourself, wake up and vindicate me! My God and Lord, defend my just cause! May those who want to harm me be totally embarrassed and ashamed! May those who arrogantly taunt me be covered with shame and humiliation! Then I will tell others about your justice, and praise you all day long. (Psalms 35:4, 8, 12, 15-17, 20, 23, 26, 28 NET)

I don't have any insight tonight. Only a modicum of comfort in these words.  I have steadfastly refused to return evil for evil. Now at least I can pray that God will do something in the way that David did. 

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Ordering my time.

The external pressure is getting to me this morning, succeed, nurture, learn, work.  All the forces pull on me cloud my vision and confuse my priorities.  I don’t know how to set them straight, they all seem good, but I don’t know what is best.  I’m striving.  My number one, oft returned to crutch.  Because God and I know what is true.  What is true is that I don’t have all the answers.  What is true is that I really can’t do everything that my life requires alone.  I will not achieve it.  It’s disheartening the knowing that I can’t do it.  I was raised by a bunch of stubborn Irish people.  The thought that I can’t do something is downright blasphemous in my family.  It’s heresy.  But not the heresy of God, although many a sermon has been preached in churches on the gospel of can’t.  God is comfortable with my can’t because he gave it to me like it was a gift.  It was a gift and not a condemnation.  In Irish people religion to tell someone they can’t is an insult, it’s tantamount to saying that you are less than me, because I, I can do anything I set my mind to.  My mother, ever the encourager, will say to me, “Sure you can!” in her best enthusiastic tone of voice.  She’s trying to be sweet while at the same time saying, ‘can’t is unacceptable.’ 

But the truth is I can’t.  Today, I am supposed to be at the library at my school researching a Hebrew word prior to class so that I can finish my homework.  I missed this class last week in order to go to my sons’ back to school night last night.  I can’t very well show up with unfinished homework today.  However, my son Harvey is sick and he can’t go to school today.  Last night during a visit with his father his fever reached 103.7, apparently no medicine was given so we ended up at the urgent care.  Harvey is fine but obviously unable to attend school, so I can’t go to the library, which means I can’t finish my homework because the resources I need are there.  Which concerns me because I already missed this class once and this is only our third class and I don’t want this prof thinking I’m a slacker.  Although Satan’s bent would be to tell me I am one as well.  I’m not a slacker though, my kid is sick and I’m sacrificing ministering to him tonight just to be at class.

In this spring, I learned a hard lesson.  I was constantly striving to keep food on the table and the rent paid.  I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off for $25 here and $50 here.  Low and behold there was still never enough.  I was drowning in legal BS paperwork and trying to care for my family in a less than ideal living situation.  I was exhausted and so freaking stressed out and sick a lot.  God gave me a gift back then of learning that I had to stop striving.  I had to stop trying to do it all.  I was not She-ra and I could not achieve what I was trying to do every day.  He gave me my out, my can’t.  Since then I have vacillated through periods of peace where I know God understands what I need for my family and he will lead me down the right path of securing that to other times when I return to the headless chicken status. 

But today, for right this minute, I’m sitting, I’m quieting myself before the altar (tongue in cheek) known as my impossible to do list and I’m waiting for God to speak.  He’s so gracious and kind to me.  He knows I’m frantic and worried about my son and more than a little ADD.  But in the stillness he’ll show me how to order my time.  He’ll show me what comes first.  Because he’s my father and he is good.  

Monday, September 9, 2013

Pumpkin Musings

I’m so not perfect.  I’m such a mess.  I don’t live up to what I believe.  I lose my temper and my voice gets shrill with the ones I love the most.  My house is a mess a lot and I can’t pay the bills that fill the mailbox.  I live on the edge of surviving and sometimes I live smack dab in the middle of life’s abundance.  I sit and soak up the sunshine of my children’s laughter or smell of clothing coming off the line.  I try to carry the sunshine in my internal, knowing and reminding myself that the sunshine is eternal.  A promise, rising each morning.  The dark night only lasts a few brief hours.  The sun will make it leave, the light can bully the darkness.  Light won’t let the darkness go beyond its boundaries.  But the night can be so black and there defeat is around every corner.  Lurking in the shadows. 

Yet the world turns, the sun rises, warm on my face. Whether sleep has inhabited my night or tossing turning worry, I still am granted a new day.  A cup of coffee and a chance to pray.  To lay the night down at the Son’s feet.  To ask for strength to enjoy today.  To live, to greet the sunshine as though it’s a blessing not a curse.  To find the slippers and a warm sweater, a cup of coffee, and a pumpkin recipe and to call this life, life, not good or bad.  It’s life and it’s meant to be lived not survived.  

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Season

The windows are open, I can feel a breeze and hear the clink of a wind chime I made.  The air has the first hint of fall.  After the weekend's stifling temperatures harken to July this evening is a needed reprieve.  The house needs to breathe, walking to school needs to require fewer water bottles and more sweatshirts.  Listen closely is that the sound of a marching band playing in the distance?  Football season is upon us. Time for the dreams of high school boys to be decided helmet to helmet.  

Where's the firewood? I yearn for the crackle of the sparks as they shoot up into a cool fall evening.  Children return to school.  Schedules are adhered too, yet the changing of the seasons returns life to us after the long suffering heat of summer.  Lunches are packed, suits are drycleaned; back to school we go.  Anticipation follows in our footsteps.  What will we learn? What challenges will we face? Who will we meet?  The scent of fall is change and that change is good.  

The rush of the morning routine is balanced by the gathering of the family around the dinner table and the cool of the evening.  In the madness embrace the stillness of the autumn.  I see a leaf falling through the air of twilight, it is time to rest.