Finding Sabbath This Summer
“All of the heartache from losing just leaves when I look at these mountains!”
-Folk Soul Revival
My most favorite place in all the world is pretty unassuming. It’s the coalfields and mountains of Wise County, Virginia. I was raised in those mountains, and in the years since I went away to college I have gained a new appreciation for them. I was never a crawdad-catcher, a four-wheeler, or a hunter. Yet whenever I’ve returned home—from Centre College, South Carolina, New York City, or Lexington—I feel embraced by the mountains. I feel them wrap around me like the hug of an old friend that says, “Welcome home!” The words of Folk Soul Revival, a band made up of young men from my area, always ring in my ear. The mountains are my home, my mother, my sanctuary, and so very much more.
What is your most favorite place in all the world? Where do you go to escape the craziness of this world? Wherever that place is, my prayer for you is that you will go there this summer. Go to the place that fills you, that reminds you who you are and puts you in touch with the people and places that matter most. You need it. I need it. We all need it.
Retreating, refreshing, and renewing oneself is something that Jesus did very often. So many passages of the gospels tell us that Jesus “went away by himself.” Often times these retreats were to pray, but I’ve always suspected that they were also to simply get away from the craziness of the crowds, his apostles, and all of the other worldly anxieties out there. Jesus was, after all, fully human. Even he needed a break!
We live in a time that is so fast-paced. This means, for many of us, that we don’t have enough hours to get things done and are forced to cram as much as possible into our days. By the time we come home at the end of the day, we’re zapped of energy and wonder why we go through this rat race day-in and day-out. We’re told we can always do more…and more…and more…and more. We’re told not to let ‘good enough’ actually be good enough, and so we push and push and push. And eventually we burn out. We burn out of our jobs, our joys, our families, and even our faith.
The Fourth Commandment is to “Remember the Sabbath and honor it.” This doesn’t mean Sunday morning, though most Christians do make that their Sabbath time. Sabbath isn’t about just setting one day per week aside for rest. Sabbath is that intentional time when we strive to remember to honor God by honoring ourselves, by taking care of ourselves physically and emotionally. Because if you don’t take care of yourself, no one else will. You are a child of God, your body the temple of God’s Spirit. Don’t you think it should be cared for? Don’t you think YOU should be cared for?
I recently returned from a trip home to those mountains. Yes, even clergy need Sabbath rest! And you need it too! So this summer find your Sabbath. Find that place to which you can go and just be. Find that place where you can let go of your cares, your worries, your job, and all of your baggage. Maybe it's a vacation spot, a childhood home, a retreat center, or a ballpark. You may find God is waiting to welcome and hold you, just as the mountains held me.