Rather than an extensive “What I Did on My Sabbatical” essay let me share one insight as well as an expression of deep gratitude. I begin with gratitude.
My time away was refreshing and delightful. I didn’t realize how much I needed it. Yet, it could not have happened without your support and the skill of both my staff colleagues and the elected leaders of the church. I will be forever grateful for this three-month time of renewal, which you both perceived I needed, and made provision for. I have confidence that many of the things that I learned and experienced will be of lasting benefit to our life together.
An insight. Rest matters. Beyond my own experience of this truth I offer two pieces of supporting evidence.
- The apex of the creation account of Genesis 1:1-2:4a is Sabbath. After God does the creative work of bringing order out of chaos, of calling forth life from that which wars against life, God concludes by resting. God is made known by both powerful word and quiet rest, by both activity and inactivity. As beings created in the image of God it seems clear that we are created for both work and rest.
- Writing in the April 16, 2012 edition of ESPN, The Magazine Peter Keating reported the following. “Ten years ago, a Stanford researcher named Cheri Mah, examining how sleep patterns affect students brains, came across something unexpected. Some of her test subjects happened to be Stanford swimmers, and they told Mah they set personal bests during the part of the experiment when they slept more than usual. Mah knew that many studies had reported how sleep deprivation can lead to declines in physical performance, and she wondered if those findings could be inverted: Does extra sleep boost athletic achievement?
In preliminary research on swimmers, tennis players and members of the Stanford football team, Mah kept getting the same answer: yes. And in a study recently published in the journal Sleep, she and her colleagues have jolted the world of sports analytics by essentially showing that you can get safe, legal HGH (Human Growth Hormone) just by shutting off the lights . . .”
Keating goes on to quote Mark Rosekind, a former NASA scientist who was hired by the United States Olympic Committee to help redo rooms at the Olympic Training Center at the 2006 Torino Olympics. “People need to be as smart about sleep as they are about diet and exercise.”
I hope that I haven’t offended you by giving much more space to ESPN,The Magazine than to the Bible but I hope the magazine report serves to provide practical support to the theological insights of the Scripture. I trust that together they underline my original premise, rest matters, rest is a gift, and rest is divine.
Postscript – The Reverend Dr. Rodney R. Romney, Pastor of LABC from 1963- 1980, passed away at his home in Idaho on June 30. Rod’s influence on our community was immeasurable. We are all, even those who did not know him, the better for his life and ministry. In his 1978 book A Promise of Light: A Spiritual Autobiography Rod wrote, “When God created humans, He endowed them with a specifically human quality – laughter. This gift was given to help divert the destructive side of our aggressions and to keep us honest with ourselves and with each other . . . Sometimes I think we need a sense of humor almost as much as we need a religion, or at least we need a religion that allows us to laugh.” I appreciate these words for laughter often provides a temporary rest, a short Sabbath, on our often-demanding journey home. Thanks, Rod, for this lasting insight.