Thursday, July 26, 2007

"Traveling Light" - Chapter Five

I really liked his discussion of the IV Commandment (Honor the Sabbath and keep it holy).

The hours when we should be sleeping are Sabbath time as well. We should turn our lives over to God and trust Him to run the universe while we are snoozing.

But, as the chapter points out, our minds fill with so many things. Kendall Harmon recently posted David Yount's challenging article about workaholics, The addiction we consider a virtue. I just heard a radio story indicating that Americans are pretty far down the list (lower than 40th, if I heard right) when comparing the lifespans of different nationalities.

Weariness, as our chapter points out, isn't just physical - it is a spiritual problem. Psalm 95 reminds us that rebellion against God keeps us from receiving the rest that He wants us to enjoy. The late night service known as Compline always includes a short time of confession - closing the day by admitting our sins and accepting God's mercy in Christ instead of stewing in guilty frustration all night.

If you tend to be up in the wee hours, read Morning Prayer or a version of Lauds. Join the whole creation in lifting praise to God as a new day approaches. We have a big, dumb (sweetly so) dog who wakes me up too early sometimes. But, here in South Dakota, her early morning needs have led me to appreciate the star-filled sky, the early morning orchestra of birds in the Spring, the glow of fresh snow in the winter - and to praise the Creator (and thank Him for good coffee, too).

Some years ago, a friend suggested reading the Psalms when one is unable to sleep. Just open the Bible to the Psalms and start reading. It is not that they are boring, but they are God's own pasture for our troubled, weary spirits. It's not about counting sheep, but, as our chapter says, about being sheep in the loving, dedicated care of our Good Shepherd.

I once viewed an exhibit of Santos, carved wooden folk art from New Mexico. A Santo that really caught my attention was Buen Pastor - "Good Shepherd." Instead of the perky young shepherd so often portrayed in European art, this shepherd was squat, hunched and weathered. He'd obviously been laboring out in the elements for long, hard years. But the little sheep was safe and comfy on his heavy shoulders.

Jesus is our Buen Pastor, who suffered on earth and now lives forever to give us the divine help described in Psalm 121:

... he that keepeth thee will not sleep.

Behold, he that keepeth Israel * shall neither slumber nor sleep.

He's always "on" so we can be "off."

I wish you good reading, my friends in Christ. And good rest. Chapter 6 on Saturday.


Anonymous said...

Lucado's green pastures include getting enough rest/sleep. For me, green pastures are found in a beautiful painting, a beautiful church service, in a Bach Orchestral Suite - or better yet, in "Sheep May Safely Graze"...doesn't take a lot of imagination to hear this work and see in your minds' eye a beautiful green pasture, the sheep (us) at rest under the watch of our shepherd (God). I also found green pastures from performing with a Cathedral Choir the Nunc Dimittis - fitting at the close of Evening Prayer (and perhaps during your bedtime prayers):

Nunc dimittis (Song of Simeon):
"Now, Lord, you let your servant go in peace: your word has been fulfilled.

My own eyes have seen the salvation which you have prepared in the sight of every people;

A light to reveal you to the nations and the glory of your people Israel."

TLF+ said...

Great comment, Scott. The oft ignored part of Sabbath keeping is exactly what you describe - WORSHIP.

Yes, we need to rest from our labors, but we also need to be in communion with God.

TLF+ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chip Johnson+, SF, CoJ said...

I use the 'early risings' of our boarding dogs to set my morning prayer clock as well.

We are up at 5:00, walk our 4-8 dogs on the river, feed them, and then, awakened and 'in tune' with the beautiful mornings of creation, attend to the Daily Office.

It makes for a great day (actually putting meaning into the phrase, "Good (God's) Day").

Similarly, the evening routine of a walk for all on the river after supper, then evening snack for them, Compline, then bed for us, about 9 or 9:30.

Anonymous said...

I was taught by our wonderful priest that thanking God for all of his blessings was an important part of prayer.

The more that I remember to thank God for, the more I am aware of the richness in my life, and I have no trouble getting to and staying asleep.