As I’ve read through this book about Sabbath and am reminded of the gifts that it brings, I have found myself considering ways to create a real Sabbath as an intentional practice in my own life—not just an occasional break, but a committed practice to take a day off every week from my usual chores and busy work and to-do lists to settle into spacious time for rest and renewal.
“Genius develops in quiet places, character out in the full current of human life.” ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
I work best in quiet places, particularly if I am writing or doing creative work. People, noise, social media, and often even music are distractions that keep me from focusing the way I need to in order to dig deep enough to find what I am trying to say or to create. So while I have long recognized the value of relationships and human contact for emotional health, I have focused on increasing the degree of solitude when it comes to my creative life.
Building in more opportunities for solitude has indeed helped, and it gives me the space and energy I need in order to increase my creative work. I’ve seen positive results from this approach over the last few months, but I’m also realizing the picture is incomplete.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.” ~Mister Rogers
I am saddened today by the news of (yet another) shooting at a school that has left many dead, including many young children. It is hard to comprehend why someone would do something like this, although it’s clear to me that the shooter must have been driven by some deep pain of his own.
I recently came across a link to an old post of Pastor Keith Anderson’s called God as Silence. It’s a post well worth reading in it entirety because a summary simply will not do it justice. He recounts the story of a time when someone asked him about his image of God, and to his surprise (and the questioner’s), he responded that his image of God is silence. He spends the rest of the post exploring this image and why it works for him. (Seriously, go read it! It’s good stuff.)
I am intrigued both by the idea of developing my own image(s) for God and by his image of God as silence.
It was during a slow day at work late in the Spring when I found this book on my boss’s shelf. We shared an office at the time, and she had encouraged me to read her books when I had nothing else to do. (What can I say? I have a really awesome boss!) With my love for silence, the title, Holy Silence: The Gift of Quaker Spirituality, immediately caught my eye. When I realized that the author, J. Brent Bill, was a friend of hers and someone to whom she had once introduced me at a business meeting, I decided it looked like an interesting way to pass my time until she returned from an off-site meeting.
Interesting is not quite the right word this book. Absorbing might be a little closer. I don’t think I got another useful thing done that afternoon, and the first thing I did when she arrived in the office later that day was to ask for permission to take it home with me. I finished it the next day.