Posts Tagged ‘Sabbath’

The Post That Made It

Today I’ve written about 5 unfinished posts. None of them really seemed to “fit” today. Perhaps the’ll end up weaving their way back to the forefront, but for today, this is the post that made it.

There’s so many things swirling around my head. So many questions, so many possibilities, so many things to think about and to consider.  I’m struggling–I feel like I know what God wants us to do, I just don’t know how to do it. Sometimes I feel like I have the courage to just take a deep breath and do what needs to be done–along with the associated scary parts–and sometimes I feel like it’s impossible. I know that the Bible tells us that all things are possible with God, and I believe it, but I would be a hypocrite if I didn’t let you in on my human emotions surrounding it all, too.

There are so many aspects to our dream. Building community. Sharing our knowledge. Creating a place that pomotes sustainability. Simplifying our lives. Tending the land. Increasing our practices of Sabbath. Creating a space for retreat. Caring for animals. Teaching. Guiding. Informing. Sharing.

Ministry.

Sometimes I wish that we still lived in a world where one could retreat to the desert, live on honey and locusts with nothing but a burlap sack for a garment, and still have people consider you a prophet and not a loon (that’s John the Baptist, by the way).  Not that I would necessarily live on the locusts, but at least I’d have some encouragement that it was possible. Living in Southern California, even living in the desert is too expensive.

So I feel a little discouraged and wonder how it will ever happen. I pray daily that God will help direct us. I know we have gifts that could help people, that could help make the earth healthier and make humans better stewards. And I have to continue having faith that if that is supposed to happen, a way will open up for us.

But today, I’m still left wondering how.

The Value of a Mentor

A continual lesson in my life seems to be to hold gently the balance between being a gutsy risk taker and a humble apprentice.

Here we are in New Jersey, miles away from our home in California but feeling right at home in the house of my incredible set of in-laws. Robert’s parents really do feel like a heaven-sent set of second parents, and I always look forward to coming here and spending quality time with them.

In particular, today’s activities involved attempting to rescue and finish my poor baby quilt. Rob’s mom, an extremely talented seamstress in her own right, has been teaching me little tricks of the sewing trade for a few years now. When I called her up late last week in exasperation over my failure to bind the quilt together properly, I could hear the smile in her voice as she said reassuringly, “Just bring it over here when you fly out and we’ll see what we can do.”

And bring it I did. Once again, I was amazed as I watched her effortlessly pull off something that only a few days prior had me pulling my hair out.  As any good mentor would, she showed me how to troubleshoot my problems, then stood by as I shakily tried it out myself, ready to bail me out just in case.  I love working on these projects with her.

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In the end, it turned out beautifully. I can’t help but feel full of pride at the work of my hands. I love knowing that a little baby will be wrapped up in its warmth, and woven within those threads will be little prayers and love for its life and for its mother. Also within its threads are smiles and stories shared by my mother-in-law and myself.

It was also a lot of fun. Here’s the finished product:IMG_4674

Having a mentor is something that has continually proven to be a valuable experience in my life. I often struggle with starting out things that I’ve never tried because I am afraid of looking dumb and messing up as I stumble along the beginning stages of learning a craft. But the right mentor makes all the difference. It’s been the case with sewing (my mother-in-law), cooking (my husband), and even theology (a countless number of saints in my life).

The right mentor has the perfect mix of patience, encouragement, and fearlessness. Likewise, the perfect apprentice has an openness, and humbleness, and shares in the mentor’s fearlessness. I suppose both should realize that the desired result is experience, not necessarily the perfect product (something hard for me to remember). In any case, I cherish each one of my mentors and all that they have taught me. I hope someday I can pass it on to someone else in the same way (including, I hope, my kids).

Life without TV

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So this is the picture that I’m posting as “for sale” on Craigslist–both the TV and the entertainment center–as part of the next step in our simplification process. I would be lying if I told you that this decision was an easy one for me. In fact, I think it was easier for my husband than for myself. After all, I’m home much more often than him, even when I’m a full time student.  Even though I’m not an avid TV watcher (although there could have been a time when that label would have been accurate), I did have few shows that I liked to have on in the background during housecleaning or other so-called “mindless” activities.  Since it was simply background noise and had the constant potential of distraction and brain-drain, I felt like it would be an important spiritual exercise to do without it.

So why is it so hard to give up? It’s not even that I want to watch anything. It has this strange power, like it’s beckoning me to keep it there “just in case” I might need an emergency fix of “The View” or something.

This is why I know I have to do without it. That, my friends, is unnecessary attachment. 

This is why I am able to try new things like playing fiddle or guitar or quilting or baking or sewing or learning Greek or gardening. And I’m having a great time doing it.

Plus, listening to the radio isn’t so bad. Really! In fact, NPR is pretty awesome.

Seeking the Sabbath

I’m sure this is the first posting of many regarding my personal reflections on what Sabbath means. The readings from Mass certainly prompted the timing of this blog, but it’s something that Rob and I have been in conversation about for a few months now.

So the Bible says that even God set aside a day for rest. Leviticus (and Deuteronomy) both command that we, as God’s chosen people, honor the Sabbath. So the question is, what exactly does a proper honoring of the Sabbath entail?

When I was growing up, I thought this simply meant go to church. But I really don’t think that’s all there is to it. Especially in American culture, we are on a 24-7 schedule of busy-ness and stimulation. We are working pretty much from the moment we get up until the moment we go to bed. We are constantly engaging our minds, our attention, our energy. “Being still” has somehow gotten translated as being lazy, and in American culture, that is laziness is the cultural equivalent to a  mortal sin.

When we do take some time to rest, often it involves watching TV, going to the movies, or browsing the internet. Now, I have nothing against these things, but let’s be honest, they all have the potential to be a black hole for time. We can watch 4 hours of TV and still feel exhausted. Minutes magically disappear when we browse the internet.  I’ve been advocating mindfulness so much in this blog, and I would argue that mindless rest is not, in fact, rest. True rest is done with conscious awareness.

Rest is a time for us to have long dinners and joyful conversations. It’s time for a family to sit around do something that requires interaction and appreciation of each unique member, like a board game or a neighborhood walk. It’s a time for us to spend recognizing the wide beauty of the world and to cultivate conscious gratitude for our gifts. It’s a thankful day. It is a slower day.

Rob and I are working on a better working understanding of the Sabbath, but these are some of my preliminary thoughts on the matter. What about you? What Sabbath practices do you cultivate, or would you like to? I’d love to have some feedback on what people think the Sabbath is all about.

That being said, I’m going to get off the internet and enjoy dinner with my husband!