Although many days I have often accomplished the reality pointed to in the title before breakfast, I am thinking I might have improperly weighed the factors involved in leading this tour of church leaders to the Holy Land.
Usually a trip like this involves what Brian, from Christian Journeys, calls the three “F”s – fear, finance and fitness.
My anxiety didn’t really involve any of these. I was more concerned how a group of people accustomed to having “better ideas” might fare when put on a bus together with a fairly detailed agenda for the day.
I was wrong. Overwhelming people cite great relief that they no longer need to be concerned about “driving the bus.”
“Just tell me what time to be there and what to do and I’ll be fine,” seems to be the predominant attitude.
These leaders seek a safe place free from their usual responsibilities where they can encounter people and situations that might change their normally accepted definition of reality and yet do not demand of them any wordsmithing or navigating of the feelings of those they usually lead.
On this trip they don’t have to think about parking, breakfast or supper. The prime responsibilities are to get on the bus and let the experience marinate.
In a way they desire a mini-sabbatical.
The word “sabbatical” is a cousin of the word “sabbath.” The practice of sabbath is rapidly making a comeback in our highly scheduled world. At its best sabbath is not just about a “day off” but about being freed from the normal stuff of daily life in order that one can be recreated, even transformed, by the practice of rest, good food, the welcoming of unhurried wondering, making love and reconnecting with God.
For a long time we in North America relied upon the social morality to carve out such a time for us. No longer. Now it requires decision.
For those of us whose children have left home and who are privileged enough to have some form of steady income, the practice seems to require just the infusion of some discipline.
But I think of my children and grandchildren. The calendars on their smartphones often mirror the logistical requirements of some WWII battles.
Yet again maybe sabbath is not, once again, just a personal matter. Perhaps we as grandparents and friends might say to the often overburdened young parents, “Hey we’ll look after the kids for these hours.” You go away and do something for yourselves as individuals or as a couple.
Then, of course, the discipline shifts because a sabbath time does not equal a date night where half the time resembles a business meeting where calendars are adjusted and parental and homemaking responsibilities allocated.
Sabbath is about more than “found time” that can be used to “catch up.” We remember who we are really and the pieces of our lives get put back together, re-membered, in a slightly different pattern.