This has been a crazy summer to be human in the world.
I get that crazy stuff is happening all the time, and probably always has since the very beginning, but it feels crazier, or more urgent, or more relentless, or something, right now. Part of it is the never ending stream of information and opinion and footage and interpretation flashing in our faces night and day.
OK, so that's probably a lot of it.
And we get so caught up in the frenzied whirlwind that we find ourselves disconnected from life.
Last Spring, a few weeks before school let out for the summer, the Spider Tree died. A beloved five trunk tree that has majestically and playfully graced the park near the elementary school in our neighborhood for decades, and made its way into local lore and art, lost one of its "legs" in a storm. Inspection revealed that the whole thing was rotten and had to come out.
It was devastating for the kids (and parents) - notes and cards were left on the stump, and on its mosaic likeness inside the school. My daughter and son had to find a new meeting place to walk home together, since they always rendezvoused at the Spider Tree.
The other night our next door neighbors asked if we wanted to help with a project down at the park. We had nothing going on, so we picked up our shovels and gloves and marched down the street with tools over our shoulders like Snow White's dwarves.
It turns out that a group of parents had saved the trunks of the Spider Tree. They had talked with the principal and gotten a city permit, and were gathering to build a play area from boulders and the remains of the Spider Tree, circling the stump like a huge wagon wheel. So we joined in.
Adults and kids, digging, pulling, laughing, sweating - it was what I imagine a barn raising had been like in an era gone by.
And besides the iPhones snapping photos (my own included), there was nothing technological about it, nothing that kept any of us plugged into the rest of the big world, or our own jobs, or urgent pressing matters, or anything other than that moment. We were working together as neighbors, on a project that would be enjoyed by others for decades to come.
That night we walked home sweaty and dirty and happy and connected. And the world kept going for those few hours we weren't watching it.
Human beings were not made to bear the weight of the world, and we weren't wired to be "on" all the time, day and night, week after week, year after year. We were designed, as the rest of nature was, to thrive in cycles of work and rest, connection and withdrawal, yield and dormancy. But we've lost touch with that quite alarmingly - and it manifests in body illness and soul sickness, anxiety and stress, loneliness and exhaustion.
A few years ago I began to learn about Sabbath. A few years ago, our congregation began trying to practice it together. Sabbath begins with the radical belief that God is God and we are not.
And that by stopping on purpose, we can remember that. And by remembering that, we will be more whole people, more awake for our own lives, more present with our loved ones. And by being more whole and awake and present, we will be better equipped to live as humans in a world that is terribly complicated to be living in at the moment.
Stopping on purpose makes us more creative, less fearful, more responsive to the needs around us and less reactive. (There is a lot of actual research that proves all of these things). It actually makes us better, happier, more helpful citizens of this crazy world God loves.
But who has time for a "break"? "Sabbath" is a quaint idea from an era gone by, right? How would you even know what to do or how to do it in today's day and age? How wouldn't it just get eaten up by all the pressing tasks and blinking alerts and relentless demands that creep into our margins?
We are giving you a chance to take a Deep Breath and step away for a while.
For 24 hours, you can STOP.
It's a retreat that you design. It begins with a workshop on Sabbath, a worship service, and a delicious meal that prepares you for Sabbath and eases you in. And it continues for 24 hours.
Please join us. Begin your Fall with a deep breath.
Come and find your way to be human in the world again.
Find out more.