Cow Hollow Church News
The Episcopal Church of Saint Mary the Virgin
The Raw Joy of Stopping
The Rev. Scott E. Richardson, Rector
I think I was about ten years old when I discovered, for the very first time, the value of rest. Our family had rented a house near Ben Lomond for a week during summer vacation and I am sure I had spent the day tearing through forests and creeks. Just prior to dinner I settled in on the dusty couch in the living room and gave way to my physical fatigue. I had always been the one who refused to nap, or even hold still, but in that moment I felt the deep pleasure of simply relaxing and now, fifty years later, I recall the feeling clearly. It was liberating – I finally realized that I could actually enjoy stopping.
I share that story with you as we turn the seasonal corner and enter summer. Our prayer is that, in this busy life, God will give you times of refreshment and peace, and that you will use your leisure to rebuild your body and renew your mind. There are many ways to do that – a vacation, a family visit, a retreat, a pilgrimage, a romantic getaway, a sabbatical or study leave, a camping trip. You might do that alone or with others. You might find your rest here in the city or you may need to go elsewhere in order to claim the creative space you need. You might give it a break after finishing a tough task or you may find ways to rest in the midst of unfinished labor.
I’ll remind you here that rest is not just a good idea but a biblical imperative. The Sabbath was set aside so that the whole creation might enjoy that same feeling I discovered in Ben Lomond; the raw joy of stopping. More pointedly, it was directed at those who held power over others, and it barred them from driving their charges mercilessly. It has been my pastoral experience that, for the most part, the driver lives within rather than above us – if we are to heed the deeper spirit of the Sabbath law then we may need to have a frank conversation with that inner voice.
I’ve been reading Chris Hedge’s book on the Ten Commandments and in it he makes the point that the Sabbath law also intends to link us to our nearest and dearest. “The Sabbath is not about one day. It is about taking time for a daughter’s basketball game, a son’s track race, a dinner where a family talks. The Sabbath is a moment when a couple sits on a bench and reaffirms love. The Sabbath is the time set aside to nurture all that gives us meaning in life, all that makes life worth living. ”
So we offer our blessing to you and yours as you move into this time of rest and reflection. May your spirits be opened to the goodness of life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.