Canon Clark checks in with us on how our Summer of Sabbath is going and suggests ways to share the idea of Sabbath with others. (Time: 6:31.)
This is Canon Margo Peckham Clark in the Episcopal Diocese of Newark. If you've been following along with our video messages, you have heard our Bishop talk about the deep need for rest that exists in our world and in all of us, particularly right now. And the idea that we take this as a Summer of Sabbath, a summer of being deliberate about rest, relaxation, and reconnection. I spoke to you last time, following the scholar Walter Brueggemann talking about the restFULness of God versus the restLESSness of the world.
So the question I have for all of us – myself included – today is, how is your Summer of Sabbath going? Have you been able to find ways to incorporate this into your life and the life of your family? What are the things that you observe about yourself? About how this has impacted you? About how you feel? About the way your thoughts are flowing? It's really important, and a significant aspect of our spiritual lives, to be able to observe ourselves in this way, and to give some account, if only to ourselves, of how things are going, and how we observe. This is another way of quieting our minds and our spirits, and taking that rest that is offered to us in Sabbath.
It's also a way that, ultimately, can lead us more deeply into our relationship with God. If you've ever wondered what it means to have a relationship with God, it can be as simple as being quiet enough in yourself and in your mind, to notice God, and perhaps to reach out and speak to God about how your life is going. About what your hopes and fears and desires might be at this time. And to really try to be aware of God with you in that and what God might be saying to you.
All of that is part of the strengthening that can come from the ongoing practice of Sabbath, because Sabbath is not only something for a summer, or a new thing to try, if you never have before. It really is a way of structuring our lives and deepening our spiritual lives and our connection to God. Sabbath strengthens us.
And when we are strengthened by the practice of Sabbath and other elements of our spiritual lives, one of the things that can and should happen, and that we can also try out, is what it's like to share that. Sometimes we are so consumed by our own restlessness, by our own tiredness and worry, and all the things that consume us, that we don't have all that much room for other people, and for what they might need, or for being gentle with them and offering Sabbath to them in some way.
And so as we move into the later part of the summer, I want to offer that idea to you, what does it look like for you to share Sabbath with other people. It might be as simple as not calling someone at the end of the workday, or waiting a little bit longer before they respond to an email or a text message. It might be inviting your family to not have screens at the dinner table and to sit together to eat. It might be when you see someone in a store or in a doctor's office rushing and struggling to do all the things that they're trying to do at once, to say something like, it's all right. I'm not in a rush, slow down. It's part of what it means to be human to slow down a bit sometimes.
You can also share Sabbath with other people by talking about your experience, by talking about the fact that you are trying this practice. When we talk about sharing faith, and we're going to be talking about that a lot this coming year, a lot of it really is that sort of thing. It's not convincing people, it's not necessarily teaching them information – it's about sharing what your faith means to you, and what it looks like to practice it, and the whys of your faith. And Sabbath is a gift that God gives to the whole world. And the rest that Sabbath has built into the very nature of creation, because that's how God relates to creation, is something that we can share with other people. And I invite you to do that. If someone says, Boy, you seem a little bit more rested lately. You can say, Oh, well, you know what, I'm an Episcopalian. And our Bishop has invited us to try to practice Sabbath more deeply this summer. And so I'm doing that. And I find that it's really helpful. You might try it too.
So as you continue this summer, think about strengthening your Sabbath practice, and the ways that we can share this with other people. Because as with all things connected to God, it is a gift from God, and it is a gift for the whole world. So it is meant to be shared. May God bless you and keep you and please continue to enjoy this Summer of Sabbath.