Better is one hand full of quietness
than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.
It’s good to be back among you after two months of sabbath time rest. Thank you for the warm welcome in worship this past Sunday. What a joy to be together after another pandemic hiatus in live-streaming land! My favorite part was greeting the children up front during Children’s Time. I pray we can continue to come back together in person in “old, normal and familiar” ways, as well as many creative, new ways in the coming months.
Many of you asked on Sunday, “How was your time away? Are you feeling more rested? Where did you go? What did you do?” Here are some answers…Yes, I am feeling more rested and rejuvenated. And my hope is that I have developed some new habits for incorporating Sabbath rest into working life. It took me time to slow down my body to soul speed.
In January I was in Fort Collins, resting at home, due to the pandemic and to the kind of rest I needed. I read books, novels and non-fiction, that I had been hoping to read. Three of them were for the Spiritual Direction training that I started in November: Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer, The Discerning Heart, by Wilkie and Noreen Au, Owning Your Own Shadow, by Jungian analyst, Robert Johnson. I highly recommend all of them and each of them would make a good Plymouth adult book study. I watched all the Harry Potter movies again and some fun TV series. I took many naps. I did as much yoga as I could with online helps since it did not feel safe to be at the gym. I did a lot of reflection – on my own and with therapists and my spiritual director. I journaled a lot about the past five or so years of my life, dealing with the challenges of my beloved’s cancer journey and the loss of my son, Colin, to suicide in 2018.
By February, I felt rested enough to travel and the covid numbers were starting to go down. I spent six beautiful days on a yoga retreat with other Fort Collin’s women at the Trailwinds Eco-Lodge just outside San Francisco (“San Pancho”), Mexico, about an hour north of Puerto Vallarta. This exquisite place is situated in the jungle on the side of mountains that go down to the beach and the Bay of Banderas. The accommodations are partially open-air. Under my mosquito net, I drifted off to sleep to the sound of the waves, the insects, and the wind in the palm trees. During the day we swam, did yoga in a palapa overlooking the beach, sailed and whale watched and enjoyed each other’s company. It was definitely a wonderful break. I returned to the snow of Colorado for three days then headed to Guilford, CT and New York City to visit with my “sister” friend, Tina, my sister and brother-in-law, Julia and Jerome, and my son, Dylan for six days. This time was very precious. I had not seen my friend and sister for over two years or Dylan’s new brownstone apartment in Brooklyn. Lots of visiting, some museum and movie time just being together.
Once again to Colorado in snow, just in time to be in Denver on 2/22/22, for the celebration of the mini-documentary on the Meow Wolf Denver installation that my son, Colin, and his friend, Pepe Apentanco, designed before Colin’s death. In the worst of the pandemic (late 2020 through fall of 2021) Pepe and many of Colin’s friends in the Denver DIY art community made, “Aquakota,” a nightclub run by alien space lemurs and featuring Colin’s best dance music, a work of art! 222 was Colin’s favorite number. It signified to him movement and getting things, art, done and out in the community. Thus we celebrated in the installation space on that auspicious day, 2/22/22, with a concert by two of Colin’s music colleagues, Ben Donehower and David Castillo. If you go to Meow Wolf in Denver (and I suggest you do! You have never seen an art installation quite like Meow Wolf!) check out “Aquakota” on C Street. It’s down the little alley next door to the movie theater. You can find the Westword article from 2/21/22 that launched the mini-documentary here. After all of that excitement, I came back to Fort Collins for more snow and painting the family room in our house as a way of returning to a work schedule! LOL!
I had a lot of good fun, some very meaningful times with dear ones, and good rest. As I think back, did I learn anything to share from my sabbatical time?
I learned it took much longer than I thought to unwind, to be rid of the “shoulds.” Early in January, I found myself asking daily, sometimes more than once a day, “Shouldn’t I be doing something productive?” This prompted the more important soul question, “Well, what is ‘productive?’ Is productive getting all the tasks that I have assigned to myself for this day done in record time so I can do even more? Is productive meeting everyone else’s needs before I find time to meet my own call of the soul? Is productive being so busy you don’t notice how the snow is falling so beautifully or how the dog is rejoicing, literally jumping and racing and rolling, in the falling snow?”
What I learned – what I am continuing to learn, for learning is practicing ¬– is to remind myself to move a little slower through life so that I can take in moments that I often raced through with anxiety. God is in these quiet, connective moments. As our Lenten devotional poet tells us in her poem, From Here in the Sand,* God stands with us in all moments, the relaxed oasis moments and the fiercest sandstorm moments of the desert wilderness called Life. God has been there all along, way before we got to any of our moments. And God stands with us singing songs of water in the desert even during the most stinging winds.
I invite you to find some Sabbath moments with God this Lent whether life is coming to you gently like a breeze through palm trees or like the blast of a storm. God is with you in all moments, inviting you to notice the wonder and/or bleakness of the scenery. Inviting you to notice God’s steadfast presence as the fleeting glimpse of an exotic butterfly or a long drink of cold water. Don’t let the “shoulds” of life overtake you! Notice who you are in God’s presence, where you are, and what gifts are being given in every moment.
Blessings and with you on the journey,
*Rev. Sarah Speed | A Sanctified Art LLC | sanctifiedart.org
The Rev. Jane Anne Ferguson, Associate Minister, is a writer, storyteller, and contributor to Feasting on the Word, a popular biblical commentary. She is also the writer of sermon-stories.com, a lectionary-based story-commentary series.