“Seek God like a man whose head is on fire seeks water,” Elizabeth Gilbert quotes a guru, as she seeks her truth in India in her book “Eat, Pray, Love.”
I am currently listening to the audio book version of this book. I am familiar with this book, but there was just something about the book that was calling to me again, in this time. And, as it turns out, it is just what I need.
I am getting ready to go on sabbatical. According to Merriam-Webster, the term “sabbatical” means “a period of time during which someone does not work at his or her regular job and is able to rest, travel, do research, etc.”
In our culture, we typically see ministers, professors and teachers take this time for something specific, perhaps a research project or to write a book. When I shared with those around me recently that I was going on sabbatical, one of the first questions asked was, “Where are you going?” My response was, “Inside myself.”
There is more to the definition of sabbatical. When I navigated through the definitions, finding “extended sabbath” seemed to sum up what my soul has been yearning for over the last year. As someone who works in the church, we sometimes do not get the “sabbath” time we need. Then, thinking outside the church, I know over half of Americans do not attend church or temple, and in a recent poll, more like 75 percent do not attend. In generations past, the week “ends” have signaled our rest time. Now our weekends are booked with entertainment, kids’ sporting programs and perhaps — not me, of course — Netflix binging.
While I know my Netflix watching helps me escape, I also know it has not been answering the call of my soul. I am going out on a limb to say it has not enriched the lives of my fellow bingers. There is a time and a place, and trust me, I know the comfort of my couch, a pint of Toffee Chip Graeter’s and my show, but I knew my soul was needing more. I knew I needed true sabbath. I needed not just a day of rest, but a “holy day of rest.” I need a time of rest that is of the divine, a time that is of God and directly connected to God. This is holy sabbath.
While some find this time on Sunday, at a church, or a Saturday in a temple, or a dinner with family connecting eye to eye, others may not. Maybe you find your sabbath in your garden, communing with earth, or perhaps playing your instrument, or singing when nobody is listening. No matter the tool or path, it is important to have holy sabbath. It is important to connect with God and have that holy time.
I am very grateful for the ability and luxury to take an extended period of time to focus on connecting with God. I know not everyone has this. Making sabbath a part of your week, if only for a moment to start, can dramatically change your life. Connecting with God, resting with God, is sure to recharge you for a new week.
In these next few months, I will “seek God like a man whose head is on fire.” After all, I think that is what my soul was saying to me … “your head is on fire, you might want to pay attention.” And so, such is the life of a seeker. I will seek God in the laughter of my children, the gentle love of my husband, the sunrise of the new day, the new flowers blooming, the words of brilliant writers and spiritual teachers, and in the presence of the many saints of the world who wander the streets meeting my soul in community. I invite you to do the same.
Wendy Taylor is a church planter for The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). She lives in Delaware with her husband, Seth, and her two children, Lilly and Luke.