“Obstacles don’t block the path, they ARE the path.” Zen Proverb.
I can always tell, (and this might be a familiar feeling) when I’m in over my head and doing too much. It’s inevitable, we have things to do and they often come in busy chunks. The “emotions” rise up. With work/practice, they may not be so out of control, but when life gets complicated the emotions come in. Sometimes, we have “no clue” where they came from. It’s like they came out of the blue. Probably not true. They were probably rising, but we weren’t paying attention, cuz, well, we were busy.
I had to laugh at the obstacle quote that came to me yesterday. I was actually planning to stay away from the obstacle theme this week. True story. But it’s such a great metaphor for “real” life, that I went with it. I could have used a “Fair” metaphor. The planning, the pre-work, the pacing of self, the day of work, the finish, and the tying up loose ends. I’m sure you can relate to the obstacle metaphor and might find yourself with your own examples of obstacles.
They threw a new obstacle in at a race last weekend. It was at the end of the race. I was tired and I could see the finish line and the few last obstacles. They seemed to be familiar obstacles and I had figured out my plan for this last push. But they threw a curve ball. The unexpected. What looked like a nice easy familiar obstacle…wasn’t. How often do we lose it simply because something we didn’t expect arose? Perhaps, planning a perfect event and…oops…shoot, forgot that? Curve ball. How do we react?
I got a little mad. I felt tricked, which is kind of funny, I signed up for exactly that—new, challenging obstacles. Then I get it and I’m mad. But…I was also tired after eight miles and thirty obstacles behind me. The finish line suddenly a little further out of reach. We see this in real life: a long, unexpected day at work? A mistake that means redoing something that should have been already done? Where does this play in our lives? Sudden, unexpected obstacles when we’re already tired?
How often do we start to blame someone else? Maybe, especially because we’re tired and we have more to do outside of this thing and we “don’t have time for this.” Often we’re frustrated with ourselves, but we look outside ourselves. Maybe our boss asked us to finish something at work before we left. Maybe someone else turned off the oven we were preheating to bake a batch of cookies in not quite enough time.
For me, I decided that this obstacle was dangerous. Who designed this thing? People are gonna get hurt. Who put it here when the racers are exhausted? People are gonna get hurt. My frustration was with…myself…but who wants to admit that?
Tired. It affects the mind. Sometimes we HAVE to push through. Sometimes, we don’t. I, at that point, was ready to rest and be done, but I was going to push through…the finish line was oh, just so close…
Ahh, the finish line. Satisfaction of a job well done.
Which brings me to my actual reflection.
I recently finished reading Holy Envy by Barbara Brown Taylor who was an Episcopal minister before becoming a professor of religions. As she began to study other religions (and her own from a new lens), she developed what she calls: Holy Envy. She came to see what she thought was beautiful in other religions that she felt was missing in her own.
One of my holy envies, probably because I find it so challenging to do, is Sabbath. The seventh day of…rest. Friday at sundown to Saturday at Sunset. A full day of…rest. No work. Deliberately disengage and rest. I love it. I don’t do it.
I could just finish this one thing and then I’ll put down my messages. I’ll just finish this one task and then I’ll be done for the day. Even better, I’ll do this one thing and be ahead.
As I explore it, I find it’s a universal concept. Holy day of rest. I could claim it. And, in our busy world we need it so much, perhaps why silent retreats are so popular. Get away and disconnect. But perhaps God knows how much we need this recharge. It’s in the first pages of the Bible. Every, yes every, seventh day is a day of rest, a holy day of rest. God didn’t mean us to take occasionally silent retreats or vacations, He meant us to take a day of rest…often. Instead, we wait until we need it. Or illness forces us. Or exhaustion forces us.
Perhaps we should rest more, especially after what was, (perhaps?), a busy weekend. The holy seventh day is a reminder to practice and that the simplest of things have most healing power. Disconnect from work and connect. Connect to yourself. Connect to your family. Connect to your community. Connect to God.
I invite you, and encourage you, to rest this week to recover and recharge. I invite you, after a busy, but connecting weekend to continue to connect. Reconnect and connect on a quiet, deeper level to the things that most matter in your life.
What rest would serve you? What rest would serve God and Grace? Surrender to a holy day of rest.