October 9, 2014 | Issue 4 

Chaplains' Newsletter

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls."


Matthew 11:28-29 (NIV)


I'm sure many of us can remember when Sundays were still a day of rest in North America.  It was a day when things slowed down a little bit, most stores were closed, people made a point to gather together for meals and fellowship after church services.  It felt like there was a bit more space to move, a bit more air to breathe, a bit more time to pause.  Our North American society seems to keep moving at cataclysmic speeds away from this built-in heritage, this gift that is rooted in the fourth of the ten commandments that calls us to "remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy (Exodus 20:8 NIV)."  It is clear that our society has lost a sense of the natural rhythm and balance of activity and rest, what Thomas Merton referred to as "a pervasive form of contemporary violence" (quoted in: Muller, Wayne (1999).  Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in our Busy Lives.  New York: Bantam Books.)


Wayne Muller, ordained minister in the Methodist Church, therapist, author, and speaker, proposes that the main source of strife in our world today is that we have forgotten and neglected Sabbath rest.  He puts it this way:


"Because we do not rest, we lose our way. We miss the compass points that show us where to go. We lose the nourishment that gives us succor. We miss the quiet that gives us wisdom. Poisoned by the hypnotic belief that good things come only through tireless effort, we never truly rest. And for want of rest, our lives are in danger.


Many of us, in our desperate drive to...care for our many responsibilities, feel terrible guilt when we take time to rest. But the Sabbath has proven its wisdom over the ages. The Sabbath gives us the permission we need to stop, to restore our souls.


Most spiritual traditions prescribe some kind of Sabbath, time consecrated to enjoy and celebrate what is beautiful and good--time to light candles, sing songs, worship, tell stories, bless our children and loved ones, give thanks, share meals, nap, walk and even make love. It is time to be nourished and refreshed as we let our work, our chores and our important projects lie fallow, trusting that there are larger forces at work taking care of the world when we are at rest.


Sabbath may be a holy day, an afternoon, an hour, a walk -- anything that preserves the experience of life -- giving repose and nourishment. During Sabbath, we take our hand from the plow and let the earth care for things, while we drink, if just briefly, from the fountain of rest and delight (www.waynemuller.com)."


It is not the physical place that brings us into Sabbath, but the time being transformed into something sacred.  This means we don't have to be on retreat, we don't have to be done our 'to do' list, and we don't have to be away on vacation to experience Sabbath rest.


What we do need is to be intentional about creating space in our lives for Sabbath moments.  I encourage you to take time to reflect on what it is that you find to be life-giving, nurturing, soothing and sustaining; what supports and deepens your faith.  And then to think about how you might be able to incorporate these as simple Sabbath moments in your everyday life, just as you would make sure to brush your teeth every day. 


These are some of the things that I have tried to be intentional about in my life:

  • Savouring joyful moments with my husband and children; a kiss, a hug, laughing together, being silly together
  • Enjoying the company of good friends
  • Enjoying food
  • Enjoying a chapter in a good book
  • Appreciating the joyful songs of the birds in the trees
  • Sunrise or sunset
  • Sabbath walks on my lunch hour at work
  • Opening and closing a decorative box that sits on the side table in my office at work to symbolize the beginning and closing of my work time
  • Ending the day with a simple prayer
  • Being mindful of what my purpose is in the moment and only in that moment

And so, as this next Thanksgiving is upon us, "let us, for just one day, cease our desperate striving for more, and instead taste the blessings we have already been given, and give thanks...and so let us remember the Sabbath (www.waynemuller.com)."


Resources for Sabbath rest and renewal:


The work of Minister Wayne Muller:


The work of Father Richard Rohr, with email sign up to receive daily devotionals:




Melissa Page-Nichols

Pastoral Counsellor 

King's University College


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