Remember the Sabbath day and treat it as holy….
a Sabbath to the HOLY ONE your God.
Because the HOLY ONE made the heavens and the earth,
the sea, and everything that is in them in six days,
but rested on the seventh day.
That is why the HOLY ONE blessed the Sabbath day
and made it holy.
I am writing this reflection as I head into my short sabbatical time (July 20 – August 22). I want to thank you for affording your called ministerial staff with this kind of time away to be renewed for ministry! It is a great blessing.
Many of you have asked, “Where are you going? What are you going to do?” Well, current circumstances prevent me going much of anywhere. I am very fortunate that we have a lovely backyard and garden with a new sitting area under our apple trees and a new hammock. This is where I will go! And what will I do? I will spend as much time as possible in being rather than doing.
What is being time? I don’t know about you, but my mind starts scheduling my day the minute my feet hit the floor each morning. “Where is my list of work tasks? What needs to be done to keep our household running, laundry, cleaning, cooking? Where is the new puppy? What does she need to learn today?” You know your own drill. And I try to incorporate a few minutes…maybe even 20… of being time into my morning routine for prayer each day. I try to remember to “pray without ceasing” throughout the day as I encounter the conundrums and joys of work and home and just life. There are many distractions, as you know! Now it’s time to go deeper to develop new habits.
The word and concept of “sabbatical” comes from “sabbath,” a day that you keep as “holy,” mindful of the Holy One, God. During these weeks away I will endeavor (and pray) to wake up with the “Holy” on my mind as my feet hit the floor. Upon waking I hope to be mindful of the sacredness of taking the puppy out first thing, the sacredness of coffee, of the birds at the feeder, of the sun and the clouds, of the news, of the dreams I remember, of the reading and journaling during the day. As I write, I am not imagining a choir singing “Ahhhh” somewhere as background music to an idyllic video of my daily routine. I am imagining what it is like to live the nitty gritty of each day dedicated to and in relationship with God, even the taking out of trash and compost, the dusting, the pick-up of puppy poop, the heartbreak of our current times.
A sabbatical, a sabbath time, is the time to practice this. I try to practice it one day a week or more likely a half day a week when I am working. It often gets interrupted with my distractions. I am hoping that practicing sabbath being more mindfully for this set period of time will further embed it in the habits of my mind, heart and soul so that when I return to ministry in late August there will be new focus and sustenance for pastoral care and leadership. That as I resume the list of ministerial tasks, I will bring with me the habit of the practice of being mindfully connected to the Holy no matter what I am doing. It will always be a practice never a “perfect.“
I invite you to set aside sabbath time in your life. Discover what it is for you to “remember the Sabbath day and treat it as holy.” The root of the English word “holy” that translates the Hebrew word for “sacred” meant “whole.” What practice do you need to invite you into sacred wholeness in relationship with the Holy One?
Many Blessings! Until August 23rd…
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. Read more