Pressing the Pause Button

The Mountains in North Carolina

            I have a prayer book that I keep nearby and I’ve been using it a lot lately. It’s called Celtic Daily Prayer and it’s prayers and readings from the Northumbria Community. The Northumbria Community is a monastic community in the UK and this book was published in 2002. I’ve had this book for a while now and it’s hard to believe it’s almost 20 years old. 

            I found a reading from the book that I want to share. This is from Anne Morrow Lindbergh and it speaks to the moment we all find ourselves in.

It is a difficult lesson to learn today,

to leave one’s friends and family 

and deliberately practice the art of solitude 

for an hour or a day or a week. 

For me, the break is most difficult…

And yet, once it is done, 

I find there is a quality 

to being alone that is 

incredibly precious. 

Life rushes back into the void, richer, more vivid, fuller than before!

            As we find ourselves in these days of uncertainty, darkness and grief we pour out so much energy just doing daily things. It takes more brainpower and energy to function during a pandemic. Everything from going to the grocery store and getting together with family takes more thinking. We’re all trying to do the right thing and be careful. Things take more consideration and sometimes more creativity. And this can lead to exhaustion. 

            And it’s not just plain old exhaustion. It’s a bone crushing exhaustion. We’re not just physically tired, we’re also mentally, emotionally and spiritually exhausted. We’ve found a new level of weariness that we may not have experienced before. We can find ourselves falling into bed at night or even wide awake with anxiety. We worry about what will happen next and will we have the strength to face it.

            I want to remind all of you of the practice of Sabbath Keeping. This practice goes all the way back to the Ten Commandments. We shall keep the Sabbath and rest from work. Six days we will work and on the seventh we will rest. And at this point during the pandemic, we need some rest. We need a break from the daily barrage of news, questions and anxieties. We need to take care of ourselves so that we can enjoy the little moments and fun things we still can have right now. 

            The reading from Anne Morrow Lindbergh reminds us all of the value of taking a Sabbath. When we get some rest and take some time to get away from everything, we feel more whole. Life feels more doable and richer. But we have to take a break. We’re not meant to keep working and working without a break. We all need rest.

            I would encourage all of you to take the rest you need to take at this point. Even if you just find an afternoon to take a walk outside, please take it. Take some time to get away from the news and just be. Go fishing. Take a hike. Go read a favorite book. Go take a picnic with your loved ones. And go easy on yourself. These are the toughest days of the pandemic so far and we don’t know what the future holds. We’re all grieving the loss of our old normal and we might be grieving other people or events too. Be patient with yourself and take care of yourself.

            As we walk through these dark and uncertain days, we know that God still holds our hands. God is in the dark times and will meet us where we are. That’s always been true. 

Reading taken from:

Celtic Daily Prayer: Prayers and Readings from the Northumbria Community, HarperOne Publishing, 2002. 

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