When I moved from undergraduate work to graduate work, it was a rude awakening. I had written one 25 page paper in my four years of college (and little else), but I began churning out 10-15 page papers on a constant basis as soon as the work on the MFA began. The first three or four months were pressure packed as my intellectual muscles worked to ramp up to speed.
The past ten years have been a process of finding a pace in life, of slowing down, being reflective and sensible about the way time and task live together. I’m sure I’ve been lazy sometimes, but for most of my life, I’ve worked hard and often complained about not knowing how to rest. As an independent creative, the work never ends, the mind constantly churning with ideas and planning. But–thank God–in the past couple of years, rest has finally come. The release of expectations, leaving results in God’s hands, settling into a commitment to pay attention to what is here-and-now–all these postures and more have led to the discovery of Sabbath and an end to the turbo-drive list of to-dos so often driven by reactionary impulses in response to the ever-current crisis.
So now, as I step into a preaching and leading role in the life of our church community, I feel as if I’m making the same kind of move I had to make in taking on graduate work. The pace is ramping up and the to-do lists are tempting me to give them allegiance. There is much to be done, and I want to serve just as I’m called, but the calls of Sabbath, of deep shared pilgrimage (rather than frenetic “service”), and of prayerful discernment nurtured in the disciplines are strong in me, and I’m thoughtful just now how to go about the balance. There are seasons of life when it’s “all hands on deck” and everyone works as long and hard as necessary, even to exhaustion. But in the end, exhaustion destroys, and the need for long-range, sustainable patterns of service seems paramount. And it may be unwise to step out of the character forming patterns that God has used to shape me for this very moment.
The pace will quicken. It must. That’s fine. But I am committed to keeping the quiet, walking slowly, seeing the world through the eyes of silence and reflective presence. In my experience, God is not primarily a shouter, preferring to come to us on the sly, wooing rather than coercing, whispering rather than browbeating. Deep-change conversation rarely happens on the run.
The Lord is in His holy temple…
3 Replies to “Resisting the Frenetic…”
Funny how this, as much does, reminds me of cycling. In fact even when I look at the Christ story…it seems to me that Jesus spent a lot of time sitting in the pack and drafting when folks were wanting him to hurry and scurry for more and greater (in their eye’s) things.
But it seems to be that he abode with the father and saved his matches for a time when he’d really need to burn them. I’m recalling his time in the desert as well, when he must have had a tremendous ordeal…private between he and the father and the temptor I presume.
Sitting in a boat napping. I didn’t seem so much as a rigid thing…as a fluid thing. His story reminds me of cycling. How often when it’s racing for real I’ll just sit dreamily in the pack, waiting, waiting for the moment when it really counts…not to say I’m lazy…sitting the pack even while racing at times takes a lot of effort.
But I digress.. I guess I like sitting in the pack right now. The temptation to heed the call of the locals wanting itches scratched that while it’s tempting for me to want to alieve those itches…perhaps God’s wanting them to let him scratch them directly. I don’t don’t know what I’d do w/o the Sabbath/draft understanding of life I have now. It’s almost intuitive… the ineffable spirit I long to commune with is guiding me nudging me to the front when necessary…when there’s work to be done yet cautioning me to eke out my gifts as He sees best. Quite humbling…but very reassuring to rest in His hands that way.
This is funny; I recall Yoda telling Luke to not go and try and save his friends from themselves…when he was getting his “Force” time in during Empire Strikes Back….now rembering that makes me chuckle.
Awesome stuff, Mr. Parks…
Wow, you write well! Articulate and moving!
I became serious about sabbath in stages through the death of my dad (2000), illness and burnout (fall 2005), and an actual sabbatical (fall 2006).
Keep up the good rest (and work)!