Today begins Sabbatical. I mostly thought it was for Milton, as he drove off for quiet retreat, reflection, and rest. Which leaves me with the same. So, as I think of rest, I write. Is that work or is that rest? Rest, I think. For me anyway. Which leaves me to wonder what I have been doing the last six months with little to no writing. Is that rest? To live so harried that I cannot think, or reflect, or contemplate. That is not rest. So I begin a sabbatical too. One to write. One to rest. One to take a deep breath. Just to breathe, please.
I read somewhere – and I’ve looked everywhere, and I cannot find the quote – that the word for Sabbath can mean something like “exhale”. Letting it all out. Maybe that is why writing is my rest. Expression. Outward thrust. Pushing out the myriad of complex ideas, heart wrenches and twists, complicated equations that don’t quite meet… yet. Puzzles that need to be solved, but first must come to the light. Somehow pushing all this out, gives rest. I want to do that. To exhale.
And then to inhale.
Ezekiel tells the story of God breathing life back into his people. They are counted as dry bones – a valley full of bones. And the Lord says to these bones: “I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life…. I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then, you will know that I am the Lord.” (Ezekiel 37:5-6) Am I the only one that wants to inhale that life? Or do you want it too? Full, expansive, inflation to capacity. Maximize. Head-dizzying intake of life. Intake, fullness, connection of pieces… completeness. After a valley of dry bones. Can God do that?
“Then he breathed on them” . That is what John’s gospel says the resurrected Jesus did when he appeared to his friends, that were pretty much emptied out at this point. (Jesus 20:22). That was Jesus’ solution. He just breathed on them. And gave new life. Yes, Lord. Do that please, again.
I guess what I am saying is, both the input and output are essential to living, and the rest in between makes both possible. We need both. And when we forsake one, we lose the other. I think I had forgotten that. Join me, as I seek to reinstitute the breath back into the bones. Please.
So forgive this restless exhale. Rest. Wait. Close eyes. Inhale. So we begin again.
“And this is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe into these slain, that they may live.” (Ezekiel 37:9)