Dear Ones in Christ Jesus:
O Sabbath rest by Galilee, O calm of hills above, where Jesus knelt to share with thee the silence of eternity, interpreted by love!
This is a small bit of the poetry of John Greenleaf Whittier. You no doubt have heard them before and will note that they are verse 3 of #358 in the United Methodist Hymnal under the title, Dear Lord and Father of Mankind. Whenever I read or hear them, I am reminded of the need for pause, sabbath, rest and vacation. I am glad that I have had some time apart this summer to vacate, rest, pause, play, breathe, pray. I hope that you have as well. It is worth it. I am fully aware that summer vacations don’t suit or fit everyone’s schedule, preference or rhythm. The point is to plan it into your life, whatever time of year works for you. For some of you that may mean taking more and shorter breaks throughout the year. Without stepping away from the regular grind, we in reality become less effective rather than more. We can become dull and find our relationships untended.
While the data appears to be moving in a positive direction, 52% of employed Americans have unused vacation time at the end of the year. Please note this appears to be down by 2%, which is a good sign. My hunch, after many years of experience and observation, is that many of us who work in the church as our employment are often big offenders. That is, we don’t have as fruitful a rhythm as may be optimum to healthiness of body, mind and spirit. If this is not true for the many, I confess it has been true for me more often than not. I assure you that while I am not going to wallow in guilt and shame, it is nothing I look back upon with pride and satisfaction. I cannot recover missed opportunities. There are no re-do’s. There is only the next time. Thanks be to God.
I close by encouraging you to take a read of a book by Walter Brueggemann entitled, Sabbath As Resistance, Saying No to the Culture of Now. In this short volume the author makes a strong and credible biblical and theological case for “lulls in the rhythm of doing to tend to being.”
Finally, pray the verse below (also by Whittier):
Drop thy still dews of quietness, till all our strivings cease; take from our souls the strain and stress, and let our ordered lives confess the beauty of thy peace.
Let’s seek this peace together. I am as always,
Your servant in Christ Jesus,
+Gregory Vaughn Palmer