Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Those Who Will Not Stop

> See all posts labeled sabbatical.

In the introduction to The Rest of God: Restoring your Soul by Restoring Sabbath, Mark Buchanan paints the best picture I’ve seen yet of what happens to people who will not stop.

“It happened subtly, over time; but I noticed at some point that the harder I worked, the less I accomplished. I was often a whirligig of motion. My days were intricately fitted together like the old game of Mousetrap, every piece precariously connected to every other, the whole thing needing to work together for it to work at all.

“But there was little joy, and stunted fruit.

“To justify myself, I’d tell others I was gripped by a magnificent obsession. I was purpose-driven, I said, or words like that. It may have begun that way. It wasn’t that way any longer. Often I was just obsessed, merely driven, no magnificence or purposefulness about it. I once went forty days – an ominously biblical number, that – without taking a single day off.

“And was proud of it.

“But things weren’t right. Though my work often consumed me, I was losing my pleasure in it – and, for that matter, in many other things besides – and losing, too, my effectiveness in it. And here’s a secret: for all my busyness, I was increasingly slothful. I could wile away hours at a time in a masquerade of working, a pantomime of toil – fiddling about on the computer, leafing through old magazines, chatting up people in the hallways. But I was squandering time, not redeeming it…

“The inmost places suffered most. I was losing perspective. Fissures in my character worked themselves here and there into cracks. Some widened into ruptures. I grew easily irritable, paranoid, bitter, self-righteous, gloomy. I was often argumentative: I preferred rightness to intimacy. I avoided and I withdrew. I had a few people I confided in, but few friends. I didn’t understand friendship. I had a habit of turning people, good people who genuinely cared for me, into extensions of myself: still water for me to gaze at the way Narcissus did… I didn’t let anyone get too near.”

He goes on to say:

“God made us from dust. We’re never too far from our origins. The apostle Paul says we’re only clay pots – dust mixed with water, passed through the fire. Hard, yes, but brittle, too. Knowing this, God gave us the gift of Sabbath – not just as a day, but as an orientation, a way of seeing and knowing. Sabbath-keeping is a form of mending. Keep Sabbath, or else break too easily, and oversoon. Keep it, otherwise our dustiness consumes us, becomes us, and we end up able to hold exactly nothing.”

(The Rest of God: Restoring your Soul by Restoring Sabbath, pp. 1-3)

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