It’s been the first time in months since I had taken intentional time to slow down. It occurred to me that I needed to simply slow down when I was asked my wife’s birth date to retrieve medicine in the CVS drive-through last Wednesday evening, and all I could muster was, “It’s April something.” My brain felt fried on the inside; total and complete resignation and burnout were starting to take root in my heart. A definite red flag that I needed to take time for my soul to rest. Which brings me to this moment of sitting outside on my back deck, sipping my coffee slowly, and enjoying the birds chirping. As I settle into my chair, I hear an American robin chirping away, communicating their love for the fresh, morning summer air. Three or four mourning doves coo in the distance atop the barns near my house, which seem to dominate the sounds of the other birds near me, and flying playfully past my back deck were two lovely black-capped chickadees. As they disappeared into the painted morning sky, I could already feel the tug upon my heart to go back inside, attend to my daily ritual of watching SportsCenter, and forget about yesterday’s problems. Still, the spirit beckoned me to stay, so I took the risk and stayed. As I settled deeper into the sounds of the Father’s creation around me, I could now hear all types of birds- some I’ve never quite placed eyes and ears upon. I take another sip savoring the richness of flavors and oils of the coffee beans, only to hear the drilling of a downy woodpecker on the nearby silver maple. This brings a smile to my face, and I can feel my heart sinking deeper and deeper into the Trinity’s love for me.
In the beauty of this moment, I was reminded by the Father of something so simple, yet so profound, I think most of us forget this powerful truth. We have a soul. It is a lovely gift from God. Our soul, Eldredge (2019) says, enables us to enjoy our life. There are moments when we may find ourselves laughing at something in a carefree way; that’s our soul feeling happy. When you are moved deeply and emotionally by someone else’s story, that’s your soul, too. When beauty around you makes you worship, when the stillness of the moment allows you to exhale deeply, that’s your soul doing well. Your soul is an extraordinary gift from God. And it needs care.
Jesus shares with us the importance of the soul when He says, “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?” (Matthew 16:26). You can lose your soul long before you die. It’s quite easy in the mad rush of life, the unrelenting pressure, hurry, worry, anxiety, and fear. No wonder there seems to be a lack of any real space to simply be human. Lack of any genuine self-compassion towards ourselves. You may be asking: what is the antidote to the soul strung out to the very edge?
Sabbath reconnects you to the Father’s love and allows you space and time to linger with Him in the space of the unhurried. It also reconnects you back with your own soul; allows you to feel again, process sorrows and joys again, and notice life happening around you again. Designed by nature to be slow and steady, not an adrenaline experience. There is a reason Shalom is only experienced in this space.
So—as you make your summer plans, when is your summer sabbath?
Sabbath can be long walks in your neighborhood, going to the park, sitting on the back deck, gathering around a summer’s night bonfire, or dinner shared with friends where no agenda or plan is enacted, but friendship and love are shared freely. The truth is this. Nothing in this mad world will encourage you to plan and protect your summer sabbath. Nothing. It’s something you’ll have to choose intentionally and fight for this summer. But it’s utterly worth it, I promise.
As I finish my cup of coffee, my body lets my parasympathetic nervous system know it is regulated, and I am at rest. My relaxation response kicks on inside my body, and I feel safe in the Father’s delight towards me. I feel rested. I feel whole. I feel restored.
Grace and Peace,
Andrew M. Forbeck MA, PLPC, NCC