catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 10, Num 2 :: 2011.01.28 — 2011.02.10


Do not disterb

It was a work-at-home day. I was tucked into the big cozy chair in my bedroom, typing e-mails on my laptop, my sermon percolating in the back of my mind, when my pocket buzzed. It was a text message from a friend: “Roy wanted me to check on you to see if you were on your way to the clergy group.” Oh, crap! I glanced at the clock and quickly realized that I wouldn’t get there in time, that I had just stood up eight of the most treasured companions I have on this ministry journey. A pang of guilt sliced through me — I never miss meetings. Occasionally I will bow out of one, and I’ll even do it for vague reasons of mental health, but I almost never up and forget one.

But along with the sharp guilt and embarrassment, I also had a fuzzy feeling: Hmm, isn’t that interesting. Guess I really needed this time at home. I trust the Spirit on this, who often works through amnesia. I felt a strange buzz of recklessness, like my subconscious had decided I needed to play hooky.

Two days later, another work-from-home day, the home phone rang. It was a friend of mine. “Were we going to have tea today?” Yes — that was twice in one week. Apparently my subconscious was feeling especially greedy.

It’s possible I need to be better about using Google Calendar, but I blame the winter weather. I blame the tangled jumble of mittens, scarves and hats that overflow the tote bags next to the front door: You know what would be easier than finding a matching pair? Staying inside. Most of all I blame the gray and white palette outside my window, beautiful but aloof, like one of those model rooms in an architecture magazine, lovely but always uninhabited.

I’ve ventured out in the windy chill with gladness — bustling from meeting to pastoral visit to grocery store, teaching my kids the finer points of snow angels, bundling up for some outdoor exercise instead of walking the treadmill in the basement. But these days, as the weather grows even more bitter and the reality of January sets in, I’d much rather behold the frigid landscape, the brittle grass and trees scraping the sky, while sitting in my warm study, with its walls the color of denim just before they start to fade.

I get cold easily, and only my “uniform” will keep me warm — flannel pajamas, fleece robe with the size and drape of a Jedi knight’s cloak, and cork-soled slippers that keep my feet dry even if I have to walk out to pick up the mail (but only if I have to). This time of year, I make myself as small as possible. I crouch in chairs, bring my laptop to bed, huddle under blankets. I try to trust this impulse. I hope that I am like the daffodil and tulip bulbs crouching in the earth with hunched shoulders, looking for all the world like a lump of not-much-of-anything, but full of possibility, ready to stretch up and out at the first sign of spring — but until a moment before.

This month, my family and I embarked on a year-long experiment, to take a full day of Sabbath rest every single week. It’s a way of taking control of our time and our life. It’s a protest against the breakneck pace that is so typical of folks we know, especially families with children and their endless sports and activities. We’re still in the early stages of this Sabbath journey, and it feels like puppy love at this point: the more we have, the more we want. A single day each week of rest, play and renewal doesn’t slake our thirst; it leaves us wanting more. Winter Sabbath activities are limitless and cozily picturesque, right out of Real Simple magazine: baking bread. Knitting. Cuddling on the couch watching a movie seems particularly suited to this time of year. Expending precious little energy, and doing it together. Maybe in June we will venture beyond our family room for Sabbath, taking long walks, bike rides. But for now, we too, seem content not to take up too much space.

Today my five-year-old daughter returned from an out of town trip with my mother. She was glad to see all of us, but after several days with extended family, she seemed overloaded. I later found her in our living room, the place where kids and adults alike take “time out” from the rest of the family. She had built a small nest in one of our chairs, complete with pillow walls, umbrella roof and a sign that said, “Do Not Disterb.” I peeked in and saw her there, her favorite books in a pile at her feet.

I know the feeling, my child. Honor that feeling. Go with it.

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