Thursday, November 4, 2021

Dream Time, Sabbath Time

I have been dreaming of falling in slow motion through a beautiful sky and last minute parachutes clipped to my jacket by someone who could defy gravity.  It sounds like a scary dream, but it was more like a flying dream.  A few nights ago, I had a rising water dream that was more like a raft party featuring colleagues who will soon be moving back to our campus than an apocalyptic plot for a dream.  It does not take a psychologist to interpret these dreams, now, but I am intrigued by how they are not bad dreams.  I call myself the Apocalypse Gal, but maybe I am not.  Or maybe we're not at the apocalyptic moment I was expecting.  I go through life expecting apocalypse, after all.

I thought of my dreams, in part because dream life fascinates me, in part because the teaching assistant for last night's Spiritual Formation for Ministry class asked if we dreamed when we slept.  He posits that if we don't get to a dream stage, we're not getting deep rest.  I realize that people can dream and not remember their dreams, but putting that aside, let me just say that the vividness of my dreams would suggest that I'm getting rest.

My tiredness might say otherwise.  It has been a week of rushed accreditation writing at work, the type of writing that leaves me fried in the best of circumstances, and this week has not been the best of circumstances.

So last night's discussion of Sabbath time in my Spiritual Formation for Ministry class spoke to me on so many levels.  We talked about carving out time, either a whole day, or in 4 chunks of time (morning, afternoon, evening, an 8 hour sleep time).  My small group partner and I agreed that finding 8 hours to sleep is hard; I can find the time, but I can't guarantee that my body will sleep.  Would inserting an hour into each day be a good start?  In my Covenant Discipleship group, we agreed that it would be a good start.

In the virtual synchronous class portion, my professor responded to what I had written in a discussion post.  Here's what I wrote in response to Barbara Brown Taylor's chapter on Sabbath in her book An Altar in the World:

"She connects to the subversive nature of keeping the Sabbath: “. . . there is no saying yes to God without saying no to God’s rivals. No I will not earn my way today. No, I will not make anyone else work either. No, I will not worry about my life, what I will eat or what I will drink, or about my body, what I will wear” (p. 139). This idea continues to intrigue me and seems worth more consideration. I want more ways of resisting consumerism, capitalism, and empire, while being grateful for this idea that couldn’t be more simple.

But as I type that sentence, I realize I’m writing from a place of privilege as someone who has workplace flexibility and resources. I am also writing at a time of workplace upheaval: jobs vanishing, workers who have decided that their old jobs are too toxic, workers on strike, caretakers who can’t do what they once could—in this current environment, does our approach to Sabbath change?"

My inner Sociology major is fascinated by that last question, but my professor focused on the idea of privilege.  She said that Sabbath is not a privilege but a gift, a gift for all, and the fact that we live in a society where so many of us have to work at so many jobs to make ends meet is a sign that our society is broken.

We didn't stay on that aspect long, although my professor did say that it will take much work and many votes to make transformation at the wide societal level.  She suggested that we focus on what our individual churches can do.  She said that she had been a member of a church where people occasionally had trouble making rent, and it wasn't a cause of shame, it was accepted that rents are high and people might have trouble coming up with the money.  So a call would go out, people would donate to the rent fund, and members would avoid eviction.  She talked about the times we could offer Vacation Bible School that would be more convenient for neighborhood moms and dads.

I like the idea of shifting my perspective so that I see Sabbath time as a gift freely given, not a privilege bestowed by God.  But I don't want to forget that it is a privilege that many of us in industrialized nations don't get to enjoy.  I do want to do the work to see that change, so that all may have a day of rest.

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