When I graduated from college, I had the honor of being selected as one of the 2 stage management interns at Actors Theatre of Louisville. Before I accepted the position, they told me that I would be working long hours for no pay for nine months. I thought I could handle it. At first I could. I was tired, sure, working 60-80 hour weeks. There was a space of 6 weeks in the fall where I only had one day off. Mondays were supposed to be off, but sometimes I worked 10-12 hours. Short days compared to the normal 16. Sometimes, sitting in the curving halls underneath the stage of the Pamela Brown Auditorium, leaning against the cinder block walls, I would feel my head starting to fall forward on my chest. "You can sleep when you're dead." was the apprentice/intern motto that year. You can sleep when you're dead.
During the Humana Festival of New American Plays, I got the chicken pox and was quarantined for 10 days. I should have been hospitalized. The day I came back I worked four hours, and after that it was straight back to 16+ hour days. Sometimes I would fall down while doing changeovers between shows, tripping on the steps while carrying props or set pieces, and I would just lay there and hope that no one would notice. Eventually I'd push myself back up on my feet and keep trudging ahead. After all, you can sleep when you're dead.
I'm not sure that's what God had in mind for people. I've been reading books about Sabbath this year and how difficult it is to keep in our current time and culture. God commanded us to keep Sabbath because God rested. God. Are we more indispensable than God? I'm reading Wayne Muller's book, Sabbath. He writes: "Poisoned by this hypnotic belief that good things come only through unceasing determination and tireless effort, we can never truly rest. And for want of rest, our lives our in danger." (p.1)
Today Jan and I sat in rocking chairs on the porch of the Inn at Kanuga. Partly we were discussing the workshop she was about to lead, but mostly we were just sitting. Rocking. Looking up through the leafy hardwood trees in front of us to the clear blue sky above. Gazing at the white cross on the opposite side of the lake. Feeling the soft breeze brushing against our faces.
We had a few moments of Sabbath in a long conference day.
Jan commented that you have to feel comfortable in your own skin to sit and be and that many people wouldn't allow themselves to take the time because they would be too worried about what they weren't accomplishing. I am so grateful we took the time.
Tonight we walked the Kanuga labyrinth and it called us to dance and play. Silly walking and jumping and laughter. Renewing after a day of heavy conversation about addiction and opioid deaths and how to reach the different generations of the church.
Yes, life is full and rich and carpe diem and all that. Yes, we can sleep when we're dead, and we want to be awake while we're alive. But if we don't sleep, if we don't take time for Sabbath rest and play and prayer, we're dead on our feet. Rest, my friends. Allow yourself to rest. Don't wait till you're dead.