Monday, 6 October 2014

I need a Sabbath!

Oh my God… I need a Sabbath.

Don’t you?

I’m not talking about a day to watch Football (American or the Real Stuff); 
I’m not talking about a day of meeting some pietistic obligation (although who doesn’t love pie)… I’m talking about a day of rest.  
A day when the busy-ness of the world is put aside.  
A day to commune with the Divine and align myself with Divine will – however I may choose to express it.  A day of justice for the labourer, absolutely, but for now, I really need a day for just to think.

You see, my life is pretty busy.  I move from delight to crisis, from meeting to gathering; from obligation to opportunity at an alarming rate… And I’m missing things.

My government and some of my community are debating our need to take up arms in a foreign country.  And I don’t have  a considered opinion – not that I’m incapable of making a considered opinion; offering a nuanced response, but I don’t have to consider… the prerequisite for a “Considered Opinion”.    
Should we have boots on the ground?  
Can we send soldiers, but reasonably imagine them to be non-combatants?  
How does that work?   

Do I trust my government or the collective intelligence that identifies ISIS (or ISIL) as a serious threat to lives and security around the world… or is this another exaggeration of threat that allows my government (and others) to rally around the flag in time for an election?  Governments at war are nearly always able to win elections as long as there is a war raging.

I went to see “The Equalizer” last week with my wife.  We’d both had hard months… too much feeling helpless as people died or grieved in my community; too much injustice happening around me, leaving me feeling impotent and  frustrated, too much many demands on my wife and too much… well, just too much too much!!    As we watched the movie and cheered for the hero as he efficiently dispatched a variety of horrible, terrible people, we felt somehow appeased… the bad guys were defeated.  The fact that these bad guys had nothing to do with the concerns and injustices experienced in our lives didn’t matter to us… bad guys lost and we felt better.
Is that what we are doing as we go to war against ISIS?  Throwing up our hands over concerns about missing, murdered and ignored First Nations Women, giving up on Fracking, Pipelines and a responsible Energy Program; packing it on plans to address poverty…. I worry that I’m being pulled away from things that need and could benefit from my attention by something that is inflated and manipulated to maintain the status quo. 

I’m not discounting the deaths, the disregard and destruction of human rights that heralds the arrival and occupation of ISIS – but are my CF18s really going to make a difference?  
  (Weren't we supposed to retire those planes a decade ago??)

I need a Sabbath or two to think… to pray… to work through all of the nuance and obfuscation to find the best way forward.  I know that it sounds quaint to some, but I really do need to pray... not that I'm expecting a booming voice or some kind of mystical SIRI to answer my questions, but I don't have quick answers to deep questions and as I open up my worry, concern, hope and ignorance to that which I call Divine... answers begin to emerge.  

As a Minister, committed to Christ’s Ministry that I dare to call the Kingdom of God, how can I ever advocate for war?  I am glad that I don’t live in a Theocracy, it means that I can be a voice and not have to rule… so, if I’m to be a voice, how can I, as a Christian (never mind a Christian Leader) be for war?  Shouldn’t I always speak for peace, even if I’m ignored by my Government and community?

You see? I need a Sabbath or two to think… to pray… to know or to find a way to live with not knowing.

When I don’t get the time, I find that I take shortcuts and begin to follow “party lines”, falling behind and mimicking the words of those with whom I have agreed in the past.  But the past is no guarantee of agreement in the future.  I might have great allies in the fight against poverty, but that doesn’t mean that we agree on LGBTQ rights or the need for “boots on the ground”.  Without time to think, I start to automatically doubt everything word that comes out of my Prime Minister’s mouth and assume that those who do not want to go to war are “not supporting our troops!”.  Jingoistic short hand quickly replaces the results of consideration, imagination and integrity.
I need a Sabbath or two.... or three or four. 

Today, I read an Editorial in MacLean’s magazine by Emily Teitel that suggested that we need to stop blaming the culture of violence in sports for producing violent abuses and criminals and instead focus on the actual individuals who break the law and hold them responsible for their actions. I read the words and nodded as I read, and by the time I had finished, because I quite like Ms. Teitel’s writing and often share her point of view, I agreed with her.
Then, I forgot to turn on the music in my car as I was driving and I started thinking instead… and as I thought about her words and the implications of her suggestions; my own experience and other things that I have read I began to disagree with her thesis.  When I wake up tomorrow, I might have a better idea where I stand on the concept of “rape culture” violent sport and personal responsibility… but had my radio been on when I got in the car, I might have simply agreed without true consideration. 
That’s why I need a Sabbath, I'm doing way to much agreeing without consideration lately (which might explain why I'm excited about the Leafs this season).

Many people imagine that the religious practice of Sabbath is no longer valid – we’ve moved on and only weirdoes and fanatics actually believe in these ancient dictums etched in stone my some cosmic finger onto rock thousands of years ago.  But in a world of 24/7 shopping and entertainment, in a time and place in which beasts of burden do not have to be allowed to rest nor fields to lie fallow AND I can watch a whole season of House of Cards on Netflix in one sitting… our need couldn’t be greater.   We all need a time out… to breathe, wonder… think… and notice.

I took some time out today to slow down… and as I sat down ignoring my own impulse to hurry off to the next thing, I noticed a man… a man that I know and love… a man whose life is crumbling around him.  He’s hurting and the world is rushing past him; people who love him are so busy that they don’t notice the hurt… When people who love you don’t notice your pain, it feels a lot like you’re not loved.   

I need Sabbath to notice the people in my life…
I need Sabbath so that the people I love will know that I love them…

I don’t know what I can do for my friend, I’m not sure how I can love him – but I am damn well NOT going to let his life go unnoticed because I was too busy.

I’m  not going to war because I was too busy to think of a better response.

I’m not going to shirk my responsibility to protect the vulnerable by putting boots on the ground because I was too busy.

I’m not going to forget my First Nations Sisters or my Brothers and Sisters whose lives are profoundly impacted by our Energy Policies because I’m too busy….

I’m not going to forget to be a living, acting, loving human being…. 
Because I was too busy being busy.

I know that I'm rambling now... but perhaps with a little Sabbath time, not just time to rest, but time to think, consider, look inside even as I look outside... I just might find some answers, some peace..

I'd say more, but I'm taking some Sabbath time, right now...  Love you later. 

No comments:

Post a Comment