Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A basket full of cell phones



Last weekend a wonderful thing happened. A bunch of people took a 24 hour-long deep breath.  For 24 hours they said no to things in order to remember that they are free, and they said yes to things that would give them joy.  They did this on purpose, and they didn’t do this alone. 

First, they gathered in a room and shared some hopes and hesitations about Sabbath, and learned a little bit about what sabbath even is, and why it’s worth doing and talking about. 
Then they gathered in worship, with others from Lake NokomisPresbyterian Church, sharing prayers, song, silence and blessing. 
In the middle of the worship, a cell phone rang.  
I stopped the sermon.  
We acknowledged our discomfort, since most of our cell phones were sitting in a basket on the communion table and nobody knew which one was ringing.  It could be any one of ours
What important, pressing thing was happening that we were not privy to at that exact moment?  Tension.  Distraction.  Pause.
Release the anxiety back to God, and seek to be present right here again.

A meal followed, and people lingered around tables with friends and strangers, enjoying company and conversation in that magical place of nowhere else to be.  And then they left one by one, two by two, into the night, with a candle and a prayer in their pockets, and 24 hours ahead of them, guarded from work and worry, and open to rest and play.

I remembered later that evening that Daylight Savings Time would begin the following morning, and then realized in delight that for our Sabbathers, this would have absolutely no impact on the day.  Since we would be moving through time guided by things like curiosity, hunger, longing and enjoyment, and not by things like clocks, appointments, lists or obligations, we were buffered temporarily from its effects.

On Sunday night, a few people checked in online about their sabbath time.  They shared things like: sleeping until waking, 
coffee and reading, 
puzzles, 
playing in the snow, 
making food for people they love. With joy.
Moments of stopping and feeling aware, awake and grateful.  
Seeing those around them, feeling present. 
Following a Holy Spirit rabbit trail – a magazine picture reminding of a trip with a friend leading to a note of gratitude for a long friendship.  
Struggling with the space, floundering for direction.  
Reclaiming and remembering later, and honoring the difficult moments as much as the ones that flowed easily. 

And these many days later, I still feel kind of stilled in wonder.
What we thought might be a fun way to introduce Sabbath in a structured event or program, instead became a holy encounter. We lived worship, hospitality and Sabbath, (our three formative practices as a congregation), all in one moment, and as a missional gift to the world.  Instead of one group providing a service others, we found ourselves alongside one another, embraced in the warmth of community, sharing food, stories, and communal rhythm, noticing God together, and then gently nudging each other to try something brave and life-giving, whether again or for the first time.  
Indeed, God meets us when we come together.  And holds us in that holy space when we are apart.

This whole experience, and the possibility it opens up, makes my heart sing.

Thank you to those who shared in this encounter. 

This, I suspect, may be the first of many deep breaths to come...

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