rest is a crucial ingredient in the quest for justice...

So this will sound like a tape loop to some, but here goes from a headline at Sojourner's Magazine entitled, "A Crucial Ingredient in Justice Work: Rest." (check it out  @ https://sojo. net/articles/crucial-ingredient-justice-work-rest) Here's a key paragraph:

Just as fields need to lie fallow, so does all creation — including us. In a world that is rife with addiction to busyness, it is imperative that we rediscover the lost art of re-creative rest. Only then can we effectively serve and yield fruit for the Kingdom of God.Justice work is good work. It is a high calling. It deserves great effort and exertion. But in today’s world, if our work in the realms of social justice mimics the exhausting routine of the fiercely competitive struggle for wealth and power, we would do well to take a moment to consider the biblical rhythm of Sabbath. The esteemed rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote in The Sabbath that the holy day serves as a “sanctuary in time.” The invitation of the Sabbath is a summons to dwell in the eternality of time, he wrote, to turn from “the results of creation to the mystery of creation, from the world of creation to the creation of the world.”

I've burned myself out too many times overlooking this truth - and I've been burned by self-righteous activists who are all hype and drive without a sense of inner peace, too. Small wonder Fr. Richard Rohr calls his ministry the Center for Contemplation and Action. It is a both/and reality, yes?

I just returned home from a "make-up" confirmation class where my young charge asked, "Why do we have to go to church each week, sit quietly and listen to stories about dead people we will never know?" Three weeks ago, we tried to answer that together in worship. But my hunch was we only scratched the surface of an authentic answer. So we spent 20 minutes talking and thinking this through from the perspective of soccer practice:  we gather together at a set time to practice listening to and loving God and one another because without a set time, it wouldn't happen. You wouldn't grow as a player if you didn't have practice would you? And you wouldn't practice if it wasn't set and required, right? Over the years, we learn a little about ourselves, we are reminded of God's forgiveness and we find new friends who can help us when we're sad, confused or hurting. Have you met new people at soccer practice? Do you hang with them? How do they make you feel? (Like I want to become a better player!) Hmmm....

Well, we also gather to rest as the rest of the Sojourner's article continues:

Compassion for the world and practice of the Sabbath for the body and soul are intimately interconnected. We cannot serve the world without setting time aside for re-creative rest. We cannot do re-creative work from a place of exhaustion and burnout. In our current culture, this is downright subversive. We carry a pervasive idea that we are defined by the volume of our work or the sweat of our brow. But sometimes the best way we can celebrate labor is to rest from it — to discover relaxation, restorative delight, and a sense of the sacredness of time itself.

And so it goes: church is truly a counter-cultural institution for those who take Sabbath seriously and honor it. For too many, however, it just one more thing to do that gets shoved to the bottom of the list - and eventually discarded. Life is already too busy and demanding. I am learning not to fret about this - I can't fix or change it - and God knows I've spent over 30 years trying. It is about time I simply pray the Serenity Prayer and change the things I can and accept what is not mine to alter. Tomorrow I will drink tea, write and pray, meet with a local artist about a Juneteenth event and then gather with local grassroots activists to listen for the Spirit within and among us about next steps in building our Berkshires justice network. On Friday, I will sleep late, clean the house and then welcome my Brooklyn family for the weekend - with a grand Saturday feast planned, too. 

It really does come down to the song we sang at the close of today's midday Eucharist...


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