As the Church moves toward the season of Lent, Margaret Kornfield offers us the following reflection in Cultivating Wholeness. Kornfield’s message of meaning-making and remembering who we are especially resonates with us as we live into Lent:
“It is through religious celebration of the liturgical year that most of us stay connected to the cycles of life: to birth, death, and rebirth in human life and in nature, even to our own biorhythms. In recent times there has been a radical change in our relationship to the cycles of nature and to time, itself. Many adults today had grandparents or great-grandparents who worked the land. (In 1850, 60 percent of the working population was employed in agriculture.) Today, many of us only have memories of having visited a farm—we are far from the land. (Now, less than 2.7 percent of the working population is directly engaged in farming.) Today, in any modern supermarket we can buy any food, at any time, from anywhere. In being disconnected from the cycles of the seasons. We forget our creatureliness.
“The relationship of the cycles of religious celebration to our experience of time may have even farther reaching implications to our health and wellbeing. Our sense of the time of the week has been changing. It used to be punctuated by the Sabbath or by Sunday. There was a break in the week for rest and renewal and this break was experienced by us and our neighbors. Now, for many, Sunday is a day almost like any other. Many stores are open for shopping. And because of shifts in work—very much created by technology—machines work full-time, therefore their operators work all the time, too. While most of us have a “day of rest,” it might not correspond with that of our family or friends.
“We still have bodies with biorhythms connected to another time, when we were more in contact with the rhythms of nature. Built into our bodies is a rhythm of activity, rest, renewal. James Ashbrook has noted that this cyclical rhythm, which we experience in waking and sleeping, is also the rhythm of the Sabbath. The Sabbath is a time set apart by God for rest and remembering. It is a time for change in activity—from working and making to reflecting and synthesizing the experiences of the week. This is what Dr. Ashbrook calls “meaning-making . . .remembering who we are. ‘ He also sees a parallel between the rhythm of the Sabbath and the rhythm of our deepest “active” sleep, REM (“rapid eye movement”) sleep. Through REM sleep we rest, dream, synthesize the experience of the day, and thereby renewed. Through sleep we are reintegrated. Through keeping Sabbath we experience a similar integration. He says that we can keep the Sabbath by setting aside a “timeless” time to catch our breath and savor life. Sabbathing can be “the way in which we keep body and soul together.
“We are supported, as we support others in their changing lives, by remembering who we are. And as we remember, we will experience the Sabbath cycle of activity, rest, synthesis, renewal.”
Even the season of Lent remembers the Sabbath, and keeps it holy.
Peace and blessings,
Cynthia V. Vaughan
Cynthia V. Vaughan serves as a lead Sabbath Chaplain for Blessed Earth. She is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church and a Clinical Pastoral Education Supervisor (ACPE, Inc.) of hospital chaplains. Cynthia regularly emails an inspiring Sabbath reflection to a growing list of Sabbath keepers. If you would like to grow in your Sabbath journey, please contact Adam@blessedearth.org and he will add you to Cynthia’s distribution list.