It’s a strange thing that the advice I wind up giving the most to students involved in this campus ministry community it is to goof off more. I know, it’s crazy, right?
My generation never had to be told that. We had to be told to stop goofing off. But so many of the students in this community have the opposite problem: they’re booked with activities and work to within an inch of their lives. A free day in one’s schedule is seen not as a joyous opportunity for rest and doing nothing, it’s often seen as a slot to be scheduled with another course, another internship, another activity.
Our culture isn’t terribly good at this either. Technology, a tool generally touted as “time saving” has made us more available to each other and the expectations of immediate return and response has given us very few places where people cannot find us. Clients send lawyers e-mails on their vacations. Professors post assignments in the middle of the night knowing their students will get the information. There are very few places and spaces for pause any more.
Sabbath is an important spiritual concept. It is that space, that pause, that emptiness that gives definition to everything else we do. It is like the rests in a line of music, giving shape and definition to the notes of the melody. Without it, our lives are a cacophony, a never-ending relentless noise that wears us down.
So, realizing it’s important to model these things, I’m about to head out for some sabbath time. My e-mail will go unchecked. My office voicemail will only tell people they’ll have to wait for me to call them back. I know that I work better when I rest well, even though I don’t do it enough. For those of you who are similarly workaholic by nature, I invite you to stop what you’re doing. Take a rest. A pause. Find some sabbath.
And for members of our community: how can we as a community help an over-programmed, exceedingly busy, stressed out generation find those places of rest and sabbath in their lives? What more can we be doing to help people live into practices of spiritual wholeness and healing? How do we witness as a community to the Christ who calls to us: “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest”?