In Jan Karon’s book, At Home in Mitford, Father Tim is an Episcopalian priest who works nonstop. From a fear of disappointing anyone, Father Tim drives himself relentlessly, lest he miss a pastoral visit, a women’s society meeting, or a church social. Even when he starts feeling more tired than usual, he plows on and keeps working night and day, often skipping meals, until one day, he falls into a diabetic coma. Yet Father Tim awakens to discover that during his days of illness, his church ran right along without him. The church continued to stand. Worship continued to happen. Sunday School classes were taught. Sick people were visited. Prayers were offered and people were comforted.
Realizing that we are all dispensable can come as quite a blow to our egos. But it should bring us some solace that when we take time to rest and renew, life continues clicking along without us. Most mammals sleep whenever they are tired—even if they have to go into hiding to do so. For some reason, humans forget that we have the same basic survival need. Father Tim was a far better pastor when he followed Christ’s pattern of rest and Sabbath renewal. We are healthiest in our Christian lives when we find a rhythm that includes rest and retreat, in ways that suit us best.
Sabbath rest can come in many different forms:
a full sabbath day
a sabbath minute to breathe deeply
an evening rest after a full day
a sabbath nap to rest quietly in the midst of a busy day
a walk out in nature
time with a friend or a family member
a few minutes of laughter & joy
thoughts & prayers of gratitude
a blessed retreat weekend
a vacation week
a renewal leave
When we set aside time for rest and reflection, we have time and space to think about the life whirling around us. And while we’re away, life, work, and ministry have a way of clicking right along without us. Trusting this truth, may you find moments, days, or even vacation time this summer to allow yourself to embrace the rest and renewal that Sabbath and time away offer.