Stretched Thin

Editor’s Note: Today we have a special guest writing for Seeing Creation.  Michael Boone is a financial consultant based in Bellevue, Washington, and also creator of R120, an organization with a Facebook page dedicated to sharing information related to nature and spirituality.  Rob and I are grateful for Michael’s willingness to share today’s entry.  Chuck

“I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.” –  Bilbo Baggins, J.R.R. Tolkien, “The Fellowship of the Ring”.

It seems we are too often stretched so thin these days that we snap at the slightest tap. In our efforts to maximize everything that can be quantitatively measured we have lost many immeasurable qualities, misplaced unseen resilience. Though we know it isn’t sustainable, our nation mirrors our own personal tension as we borrow against endless tomorrows to satisfy today’s needs. Fortunately, God offers us a different model.  “For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield,  but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the beasts of the field may eat. You shall do likewise with your vineyard, and with your olive orchard.” – Exodus 23:10-12 (ESV)

All of Creation was made for the rhythm of Sabbath. God tells us that six days work is enough to save up for seven days of living. Six years work with saving is enough for seven years living with the extra fruitfulness left for the poor and beasts to gather what they need. There is a safety margin built in to this model as we pay in advance for our rest rather than borrow it from the future. But instead we have taken what we have saved for our Sabbath and spent it as a down payment attached to 30-years of Sabbath-less interest payments. Foolishly, we have spent not only our future money but, as we will learn if we haven’t discovered it yet, our future time, as well. Our personal and collective financial imprudence is a symptom of our low regard for God’s command of Sabbath and the restorative and resilience-building power of rest.

We have much to learn about rest from watching Creation. Seasons of fruit bearing are followed by seasons of root building. Times of rapid growth are followed by a lull, a time of consolidation.  Our own frenzied activity must be balanced with periods of reflection that allow room not only for rest, but the creative solutions that a rested mind invents. Warren Bennis writes in his book “Why Leaders Can’t Lead”: “The leader should incorporate a reflective arena into his or her structure, so that time out for musing is mandatory. I’m not speaking here of the sort of retreats that organizations have recently become so fond of, because they are usually the same old routine in a new location. If people in authority stopped regularly to think about what they were doing, they would have the kinds of fresh insights they now pay consultants dearly for.” 

If we are to adopt a sustainable rhythm of life and not snap under pressure of our own making, it will be because we learned not only the importance of rest, but also the deep wisdom of Sabbath that God has written into both scripture and Creation.

–Michael Boone

(To illustrate Michael’s blog I chose an image I took in the Alabama Hills of California and two from national parks in Michael’s home state–Mt. Rainier and Olympic. CS)