The 6th Annual Bosque Weekend was November 17-18. Over 3 dozen women from across the diocese came together for a time of inspiration and fellowship.
After dinner, each woman shared her definition of the word ‘Sabbath’. The Rev. Monica Whitaker gave her first talk noting that the joyfulness of “God rested on the seventh day” turned into law over the years. Monica noted she that the book Sabbath as Resistance by Brueggemann was inspiration for her first retreat on Sabbath.
Brueggemann asks what if lives weren’t as busy and we enjoyed our vocation as much as our vacations? He asks do we live to work or work to live? Monica noted that we have to consciously create Sabbath, but as Brueggemann states, we resists Sabbath even though it is the only way to re-creation. Brueggemann notes that by taking Sabbath we are in resistance to the culture around us, too.
In Godly Play, the 10 Commandments are titled the 10 Best Ways to Live. We are invited to live into the Commandments. They are not something we ‘have’ to do, they are a way to live in relationship with God and each other. With 10 of the women, Monica visually demonstrated that Sabbath is the centerpiece of the 10 Commandments with relationship to God on one side and relationships with others on the other. God created, then God rested in order to revel in what was created. We forget to celebrate what we accomplish. We ought to celebrate what we create together and what we will create next time. God continues to create through each of us and through all creation.
Monica stated that Sabbath is a special time that we take in order to be in relationship with God and self and creation. It is simply ‘being’. We must choose Sabbath because it is a visible, decisive way to align our lives with the God of rest. Choosing rest not busy-ness helps us be in right relationship. We may need to make an appointment to be with ourselves because we deserve it. When we choose Sabbath, we choose who we will serve and how.
The retreat continued with breakfast and worship that included movement led by the Rev. Sylvia Miller-Mutia. Monica then reminded us that Sabbath is the way to be in right relationship with God and each other. We have to develop our own Rule of Life that includes Sabbath time. C.S. Lewis defined a Rule of Life as intention pattern of discipline that provides growth in holiness. It is a rhythm that is formed by the Spirit to Love God in order to be transformed. Through grace a new self is formed in order to ultimately love God more.
Monica noted that a 'Rule of Life', or 'Rhythm of Life', or 'Curriculum of Life', or 'Game Plan for Morphing' is a way to find accountability and should include a self-assessment, an explanation of how to practice the Rule and some form of accountability with someone else.
Sabbath is relationship and reconnecting with God. Monica suggested asking ‘what is distracting you?’. We live in a performance based society and so we must make the conscious effort to resist the cultural messages of ‘now’, ‘more’, ‘not enough’. Our response, in God, can be ‘I am good enough’ and ‘I choose to say No’. Observing Sabbath has to be a conscious decision in which we look at creation and notice God. We pause and contemplate how to act before taking any action.
After a ‘Sabbath time’ to have quiet time to make prayer beads, color, walk the labyrinth, or just be quiet, everyone re-gathered for worship before lunch. Monica asked the group to consider Sabbath as Thanksgiving. She pointed to the story of Jesus healing the woman on the Sabbath, remarking that Jesus looks, sees, speaks, and then heals the woman. We are also called to new, healed life in which God sees, speaks, and heals us. The new life happens when we pause and recognize God’s presence. The center of Sabbath is rest when we receive without having accomplishment, achievement, or even qualifications. We are each ‘the Body of Christ, the Bread of Heaven’. We are the Eucharist.
After lunch, Monica shared how Sabbath is a Gift and it is up to us to be aware and practice being on the receiving end of God’s gifts. Sabbath is a creative expression of God’s gift as well as a time of rest and reconnecting. Even though we are conditioned to be embarrassed when talking about our gifts, we must be honest about our gifts and skills. If we are not honest, we resist God’s call. If we deny we are gifted, we deny that we are a Child of God. Sabbath helps us get off the ‘hamster wheel’ in our head that insists we are ‘not good enough’ or that we ‘have to’. Together, the group considered ways to offer Sabbath to someone and how each person can experience the practice of Sabbath as a gift to yourself from God.
Sylvia reminded the group that the Gift of the Spirit is one that energizes and replenishes the soul. Skills, while useful, do not necessarily energize. The questions is are you ‘driven’ or ‘drawn’ to do something, and what gives you life?
Throughout the weekend, attendees created a Prayer Frontal for the altar using strips of cloth on which prayers were written and woven into the deer netting. The closing Eucharist was for the Feast of Hilda of Whitby, a 7th century saint who founded the Abbey at Whitby. As the sermon everyone was invited to share their closing thoughts on Sabbath. Many noted that their definition of Sabbath had changed. Attendees realized that Sabbath is a choice and there are many ways to live and incorporate Sabbath. Sabbath is love for self and love for God and we must take care of ourselves in order to serve others. Part of Sabbath is re-creation and it is good to just ‘be’.
(photos courtesy of Ann Bagby, Monica Whitaker, Cindy Davis)