contemplative monk : Intentional Spirituality Transforms

Shabbat, Sabbaticals, Retreats and Daily Sacred Rest

Sturtevant Falls 

On Sabbatical

Nobody tells you these things. Or maybe I was sleeping in class. But I broke down last year. Everything fell apart all at once…my health, my focus, my passion. I just couldn’t do it anymore. I wanted to, more than anything, but I just couldn’t.

That’s when I made the decision to become a monk, or a friar in my case. I needed the structure to restore me. I thought I just needed some rest and a change of focus. But it’s taken me over a year to realize what’s really going on. I’m on sabbatical.

Sabbatical or a sabbatical (from Latin sabbaticus, from Greek sabbatikos, from Hebrew shabbat, i.e., Sabbath, literally a “ceasing”) is a rest from work, or a break, often lasting from two months to a year. The concept of sabbatical has a source in shmita, described several places in the Bible (Leviticus 25, for example, where there is a commandment to desist from working the fields in the seventh year). In the strict sense, therefore, a sabbatical lasts a year.

Running On Empty

We live in a digital world where we’re pushed to press on, 24/7, just to survive, or do we? We work at breakneck speeds at our own risk. It’s not sustainable.

We need rest, sacred rest and not just two hours on Sunday, which for some of us is the hardest work we do all week.

We Need To Schedule Restoration

We aren’t taught to plan our times for rest-oration. We usually break down, get sick and end up apologizing to everybody else for having to take up our slack. Our culture is not forgiving to those who are weak and break. But the reality is that we all do.

Jeff Goins wrote an article The Most Important Part of the Creative Life, in which he lays out our need for physical, mental and spiritual space to create, to which Frank Viola added our need for creating emotional space.

These are necessary components in the ground work of a creative life, but I need more. I need a Sabbatical. Not just a retreat, because everything in my life is changing. I should have done this before I broke. But I was afraid to stop, afraid I’d never catch-up. But you don’t have to learn the hard way. So here’s my advice for you.

But you don’t have to learn the hard way. So here’s my advice for you.

 Four Aspects of Sacred Rest

Schedule time

Give Yourself A Break

Do it now. Start daily with a sacred time of devotion, or with a weekly Sabbath restoration. Take Saturday off, and plan the others. It may take six months to implement, but that’s not what’s important here, You are. God designed you this way for fellowship.

Begin Every Day With Rest

Here’s something extra on daily rest. We usually take a daily devotion time in the morning. But did you know that the Biblical day begins at sundown? Every day begins with rest. God designed us this way. Every day can be a mini-retreat at sundown. That’s a radical thought. It wasn’t a problem until Thomas Edison invented the light bulb.

Living life on a Spiritual Deficit

Our frantic ADD lifestyle that lauds ‘working hard, and playing hard’ will break you. Human beings aren’t designed for it. We need periods of recovery. Even more, our spiritual deficit will at best send you into mental torment, and at worst into an early grave.

The Spiritual Life is a Rhythm Centered Life

You see, the spiritual life is a rhythm centered, engage and release lifestyle. Like our breath, it’s putting our spirit first, so that everything else falls into place. Then, there’s the proper emphasis on our emotions, our mind, and our body is honored as the temple of the Holy Spirit that it is, the integration of the spiritual into our common life. ~ Selah

The image of a  triangle illustrates this, with our Spirit at the top and our Body on the left bottom side and our Soul (emotions, thinking, and will) on the right bottom side. This illustrates a right relating to the eternal, with our spirit on top and our heart dead center.

This is the purpose of daily, weekly, quarterly and seasonal periods of rest and retreat…To right our spirit and line us up, to the life we’re designed for. Rightly related, we can center our spirit into God. Thus centered, we sync ourselves with the heartbeat of our Father. It’s eternal life to your spirit. It’s oxygen to your soul. It’s marrow to your bones.

And it all begins with rest. How counter-intuitive is that?

 

Photo by Michael Chen

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  • Bob Holmes

    The purpose of daily, weekly, quarterly and seasonal periods of rest and retreat…To right our spirit and line us up, to the life we’re designed for. Rightly related, we can center our spirit into God. Thus centered, we sync ourselves with the heartbeat of our Father. It’s eternal life to your spirit. It’s oxygen to your soul. It’s marrow to your bones.

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