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While on retreat last week with the very talented, very gifted, and delightful group of leaders we call the Senior Leadership Team here in the National Offices, we went through a spiritual exercise called “Being Enough.” The Rev. Dr. Martha Brunell was our spiritual guide for the retreat, and she encouraged us to reorient our thinking around our capacities and limitations.
She shared with us the metaphor of a thermostat. It works until it has done enough, and then shuts off. If it keeps working beyond what it was asked to do, either the boiler explodes or the house burns down.
Too many of us, myself included, don’t have a governor – that device built into the mechanism that tells us we have done enough and it is time to stop or level off. Our thermostats are either broken, ignored, or just not built into the design of our work. The times for leveling off or shutting down are far from sufficient to restore and replenish the system. Work overloads lead to burn out, ill health, stress, and explosive results either internally to the self or externally to the systems in which we operate. None of that is good. It certainly is not healthy.
Few weeks ago, I ended a sabbatical that began last Nov. 1. Since then, I am sleeping so much better. My breathing is more controlled. I am pausing more in each day to check on my mental health and well-being. The time away to reboot the system and the recharge the battery did wonders for my physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
While away, I had to entrust some very important matters and some very burdensome responsibilities to others. I learned the system and the world will continue to operate just fine in my absence. There is something very gratifying to that.
I tend to be a product of the culture formed within the context of the Protestant work ethic. Idle hands are the tool of the devil – and all that jazz. I feel less than worthy or deserving if even on my days off I am not doing something productive. I needed badly a system re-boot, not just to take a break but – and the spiritual guide last week asked us to think about – to reorient my way of thinking about my contributions each day being enough.
Set a limit.
Work to it but not beyond it.
Trust others, their talents and their wisdom and their contributions.
Let it be enough.
This is a much healthier way to live.
Sabbath rest isn’t really what I grew up thinking it was: a forced day of obligation upon which we stopped working so that we could show up and tell God how important She is to us so that She won’t judge us harshly in the afterlife.
Sabbath is a sacred time of committing to being healthy having done enough; and of letting enough be enough. It is a gift given by the sacred to open unto to us pathways to sustaining healthy hearts, healthy minds, healthy bodies, and healthy spirits.
Your body is prepared to tell you when enough is enough. Listen to it. And let enough be enough on this, our journey Into the Mystic.