Episode 39: Sabbath

I’m returning from a week of vacation. While that may not sound very spiritual, let me try and help us think differently about that.

Too many of us run hard and fast. Our work lives and home lives often combine to extract from us all the energy we have to give in a day – and more besides. We dream about what we will do when free time comes, but just don’t seem to get too many opportunities to squeeze in the free time needed to do those things.

In a culture built around the Protestant work ethic, it can become easy for us to delude ourselves into thinking that moving fast and working hard translates into a life well lived.

It doesn’t.

Too many regrets emanate from a life spent in nothing but toil and labor. Families drift apart as loved ones feel neglected, replaced by career ambitions or work overloads. Opportunities to enjoy the fruits of our labors get sacrificed for the meeting that got scheduled at the last minute to address the latest crisis. Children’s ball games or dance recitals are missed for that Board meeting in another city. Bodies in need of rest react to the stress and overuse in less than healthy ways, while our spiritual needs go unmet.

Hey, I’m no paragon of virtue when it comes to these matters. My wife constantly challenges me to slow down, to pay more attention to her, to our children, to our grandchild, to my own needs. I have been working for years with a life coach – and one of the things she has instilled within me are practices to sustain spiritual, emotional, and physical health through long work experiences.

I don’t mind working hard. I have dreams I want to pursue, the fulfillment of which bring me great joy and satisfaction. That isn’t going to change – and my own spiritual and mental health would be compromised somewhat if I didn’t work hard to achieve something that mattered. This becomes, for me, a matter of balance.

How can I honor my commitments to labors of love while paying close attention to those things that keep me grounded, refresh my soul and spirit, and not neglect my commitments to those I love?

I leave my office every day at noon and I walk the city for an hour.

I breathe. That sounds trite, I know. But when I begin to feel tension in the muscles, I stop for a moment, take in some slow, deep breaths – and remind myself to relax.

I awaken early every day – and enjoy the quiet time that surrounds me before others start to rouse and move.

I watch baseball. I spent my last day of vacation this week with my son at Progressive Field. The rain delay didn’t bother me at all – it meant two extra hours with him at a baseball diamond.

I take long bike rides.

And this week, I held my grandchild. I took him to the zoo. I walked him two or three times a day. I took him to the park. I took him swimming. I bathed him at night, and then rocked him to sleep, putting him in bed at night and then, as I was always the first awake, was there to hold him when he awoke the next morning.

So, today I’m back at work.

But I feel refreshed. The Still Speaking God has come and renewed my aching body and weary spirit through play and rest. I am grateful.

Gentle listener, give pause. Breathe. Rest. Renew your soul and spirit daily. Work hard, but find balance so that all that you are built and created to do can be done with your whole self. Let’s take care of ourselves as we journey together Into the Mystic.

Categories: Column Into the Mystic

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