The One Thing – [Theography] July 27-29, 2020
One Thing I’m Grateful For…
I’m grateful for having been able to get away for a few days. Just recently Nancy Lee and I drifted north to a secluded spot on the North Shore. Our ‘home-away-from-home’ was a cozy little place on The Lake; and I mean Right On The Lake! For a handful of days we revelled in the relentless sound of the water crashing on the shore, the aroma of balsam, pine and birch and how the vastness of both the lake and the forest stretch out far beyond what our eyes could see. We love that part of the world and we love being there together.
Okay, there’s also a pretty ridiculous donut shop in a nearby town as well. You know that one, don’t you?
One Thing I’m Learning…
I’m a word-nerd. But then, you knew that, right? I love words, language, turns of phrase. I love being able to say things differently than the way we usually say them. So when I say that we were able to “get away” for a few days, I’m learning that there is a difference between “getting away” and “arriving at” some particular place.
Time after time Jesus invited his disciples to a “lonely place,” a “place apart,” a “restful place.” Jesus referred to these places as deserted, desolate, and solitary places. The disciples probably thought they were “getting away from it all” after all the traveling they were doing. Jesus, on the other hand, saw it as a place of arriving, specifically, arriving at renewal and restoration, a place where they’d get their lives back.
I’m learning to look at it that way. I’m learning about finding balance in all of that. I’m learning the difference between “getting away” and “coming back.”
One Devotional Thought or Insight That is Forming or Challenging Me…
Our Jewish brothers and sisters traditionally observed the sabbath from Friday evening to Saturday evening. Most Christian communities observe this on Sunday. Either way, it’s a day to “get away” from the familiar rhythms of work busyness into a generative space to breathe, slow down, perhaps even stop. It’s a day for rest, renewal, restoration.
There’s a powerful model for sabbath woven into the poetry of the book of Genesis where the writer uses finite words to describe something infinite: “God rested on the seventh day from all the work that had been done…” It goes on to say that God “blessed the seventh day and hallowed it…” The word ‘hallowed’ means to remove something from common usage. So it’s like God sets aside one day from common, ordinary usage in order to reveal something truly extraordinary and uncommon.
We need days like this, don’t we? We need days that are ordinary. We need days that give us a break from the common, ordinary rhythms that knock the stuffing out of us. We need a day – a sabbath to empty out so that we have room for something uncommon, extraordinarily new.
This raises a couple of important questions.
If sabbath is a day just for “being” and not for “doing,” how do we do that? If the question really isn’t “What will we ‘do’ with our sabbath rest?” but rather, “How will we ‘be’ with the sabbath?” how do we move in that direction?
Maybe instead of trying to figure out how to manage the day, maybe the day just gets to manage us. But what does that mean? What does that look like?
Those are good questions. That’s what’s continuing to challenge and form me these days.
Paul Gauche is the Pastor of Life Transitions at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, MN.