Adventures in Thanks-Living

Living the gift of life one breath at a time

Archive for the tag “Sabbath”

Knock, knock. Who’s There?

GHOURI ! CC

Me. Yep. I’m still here. I’m still grateful. And I’m still enjoying a life filled with adventures in thanksliving. Like a lot of you, sometimes life gets in the way of our best intentions. For me this has been a season of pure busy-ness. Everything has been up in the air–from our calls to our home to our family being spread all over the place. We’re gradually getting life sorted out and put back into some semblance of order, a little bit more each day. But even amidst the craziness, it’s been good, and there have been small moments of grace and gratitude to celebrate every day.

Funny thing is that if you’re constantly on the look for moments of thankfulness and always turning toward generosity, the world presents you with some pretty amazing moments of grace and light. Whether it’s coffee with a good friend, shedding a tear with some faithful Christians  as they gather to close their congregation, gathering with a fine group of women colleagues in ministry, or spending a quiet night with the one I love–each day brings something to appreciate, to savor, and to treasure. Even the painful moments have their little bits of light and beauty when glimpsed through the proper lens.

Today I’m catching my breath. I’m celebrating Sabbath. I’m watching, waiting, observing the moments and treasuring each precious one. In a few hours the busy, crazy week’s schedule will resume. But for now…

…for now there is rest. And it is good. Blessings to you this day. May you experience at least one shining moment to savor.

Photo: GHOURI !, Creative Commons

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The Days are Surely Coming

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The days are surely coming, says the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. — Jeremiah 33:14

Read: Jeremiah 33:14-16

Ponder:

“One of the essential paradoxes of Advent: that while we wait for God, we are with God all along ,that while we need to be reassured of God’s arrival, or the arrival of our homecoming, we are already at home. While we wait, we have to trust, to have faith, but it is God’s grace that gives us that faith. As with all spiritual knowledge, two things are true, and equally true, at once. The mind can’t grasp paradox; it is the knowledge of the soul.” — Michelle Blake, The Tentmaker

Reflect:

It’s here already! Can you believe it? Today we lit the first candle on the Advent wreath and sang the first Advent hymns. While the season may be here, the days are surely coming and the promises of God are being fulfilled.

We live in the already and the not yet–all of us–in a state of tension. Our lives are pulled in many directions; there is always something to do. Our culture encourages us to hurry up and get ready for that perfect Christmas by searching for the latest and greatest and most perfect of presents. Images and sounds of Christmas bombard our senses at every turn. But wait…it isn’t Christmas. The days are surely coming, but the twelve days of Christmas are not now, not yet.

Right now it is Advent. God gives us the gift of 24 wonderful days to wait, to anticipate, and to be present in the moment. Advent reminds us that we are created as human beings rather than human doings. Instead of overspending our time, our energy, and our resources Advent encourages us to spend our love lavishly, to wait in wonder, and to experience life rather than rush through our precious days.

Dear friend, if your “to-do list” is spiraling out of control and your energy is flagging, then stop and be still. Sit and listen. Breathe. Pray. Relish this moment in faith that your work will get done and you will keep Christmas. The days are surely coming, but not just yet.

These are the days to sweep clean your cluttered mind and clear away any cobwebs of anxiety and dust bunnies of despair. God is coming again and God is already here. No perfection is needed, only an open mind, a quiet heart, and peaceful soul. You do not have to “out-decorate” your neighbor or “wow” your child with baubles and trinkets or throw the most memorable party. In the end those things will not matter or even be remembered.

The days are surely coming, but this is the day you have. Live it. Love it. Pay attention to it. And open yourself to the miracles of the Creator.

You will not be disappointed.

Thanks-living:

Today do nothing or as little as possible. Enter Advent on the hours of a gentle Sabbath. Experience God as fully as possible and rest in the divine hope and grade that are already yours.

Vacation Time

Last week I took a mini-vacation, and it was wonderful. It was supposed to involve a trip to see my spouse’s family, but conflicting work schedules made it necessary for me to stay behind. Because we could not go to New England with the rest of the family, my two girls and I determined that we would take the single day neither one of them was scheduled to work and go to the beach. Yes, that’s right. We got up very early, drove four and a half hours to spend seven hours at the shore, and then drove right back home. It ended up being a fine adventure and gloriously good time.

Our lovely mini trip cost less than a night’s stay in a budget beach motel, and we enjoyed a full day of fun, quality time together, and relaxation (I took a two hour nap and read while they walked the boardwalk). I am so thankful my youngest daughter insisted we take this whirlwind girl trip getaway. Just a few hours of ocean air, salt water, surf, and sun helped melt away accumulated stress.

Maybe it has something to do with the American work ethic, or perhaps it is my Germanic heritage, but whatever the root cause, I have a difficult time taking vacation. I am lucky; I have a job that provides generous paid time off. Not all Americans have that luxury. In fact, about one in four Americans has no paid vacation time or holidays as a  job benefit. Even so, I still have a hard time breaking away.

And yet, God commanded us to take Sabbath time., designating the first day of every week as time to reorient oneself to a right relationship with God, and to take sufficient time to rest and recharge. If God considers Sabbath time so important, why do I have such a difficult time taking the vacation time I am granted? Why are many Americans working themselves into illness and poor health? Why is paid vacation and holiday time a “benefit” offered to the lucky workers and not all working Americans?

In case you think I’m odd, read this article posted on Salon’s website. You might also wish to review this policy brief, entitled “No-vacation nation USA– a comparison of leave and holiday in OECD countries,” by Rebecca Ray and John Schmitt that is referenced in the article. Produced for the European Trade Union Institute for Research, Education and Health and Safety, the report provides a comparison of paid leave and holiday time for 21 wealthy countries (16 European countries, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the United States). After reading the entries for the other countries describing the various governmental policies for how paid leave and vacation time is guaranteed to workers, here is the statement for the United States: “United States law offers no statutory paid leave. The only exceptions are for government contractors and subcontractors covered under the Davis-Bacon Act (18).”

Here’s another telling excerpt from the report’s introduction (p. 2):

In the absence of government standards in the United States, almost one in four workers there has no paid leave and no paid public holidays at all. According to U.S. government survey data, the average worker in the U.S. private sector receives only about nine days of paid leave and about six paid public holidays per year, substantially less than the minimum legal standard set in the rest of world’s rich economies excluding Japan (which guarantees only 10 paid-leave days and requires no paid public holidays).

You can access the entire report here.

We are conditioned to think that vacation and holiday time may lead to lower productivity and sloth, even though credible research says otherwise.  If you do have paid vacation time and holidays as part of your work package, be thankful–and take it. Your body, your mind, your family, and your spirit will thank you.

Super Bowl Sabbath

In 2011, more than 93 million people watched the Super Bowl. I suspect a lot of folks are gearing up to watch this year’s re-match between the Giants and Patriots. If you are among those numbers, more power to you! I hope it’s a good game, a good time, and an opportunity to relax and enjoy the company of family and friends.

As for me, I’m going to enjoy a little Sabbath time. I may watch a movie or read a book. I don’t have anything special planned, and that’s o.k. Time to rest, relax, and quiet my mind is the order of the day.

So, for today, I’m signing off to take a Super Bowl sabbath — and a nap. I am simply thankful for a little quiet time to end a busy weekend.

Blessings and peace — football or not!

Image by RMTip21 used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!

Naps are Nice

This afternoon I came home from a very good day at Trinity Lutheran Church and took a long, luxurious nap that was both needed and nice. I was tired in a good way; we had lively conversation in our book discussion group, wonderful worship followed by “Coffee and Conversation,” and then a visit to a dear lady in a nearby nursing home.

I can remember as a young child simply hating naps. Now as an adult I look at naps as a luxury and take every reasonable opportunity to catch a few extra minutes of sleep. Our culture moves so fast that we’ve lost the concept of an afternoon time of rest and rejuvenation. In fact, Americans as a whole do not get enough sleep and suffer from sleep deprivation.

Our bodies are geared for an afternoon nap. According to an article posted on about.com, most people experience natural drowsiness about eight hours after waking. A nap can restore and rejuvenate a person, along with providing some much needed health benefits. The afternoon “siesta” is still the norm in many Latin American and a few European countries.

Maybe we’d all feel better and be more effective by allowing time for a daily power nap of 15 minutes to an hour in length. God commanded us to observe the Sabbath for our own benefit, but most of us fill those extra weekend hours with other activities. What if we took a “mini-Sabbath” every day in the form of a power nap and a prayer, some quiet time with a cup of tea, or 30 minutes of stretching, yoga, and/or meditation? I’d be willing to bet we’d see a drop in stress and a few more smiles.

As for me, I am thankful for today’s nap. Combined with spending time with God, the good folks at Trinity, and my family, it was a wonderful day and a fine start to another week.

How about you? When was the last time you took a nap?

Photo by In My Eyes Photo used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!

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