Don’t just stand there! Do something!
We are Christians, but we are American Christians. Americans are doers. We do stuff; we work hard; we play hard; we get the job done. We are famous the world over for being able to do anything we set our minds to do. Even as we get older, we are proud of the fact that we keep busy. We don’t just “sit around”. And even if we sit, we are doing something, like a hobby, reading or watching a screen.
To do nothing, goes against our very nature. To waste time is tantamount to sin. So, it is with much trepidation that I remind you, and myself, in these tumultuous times, to take time to stop the busyness. To free yourself from all the distractions and necessities of life for just a few minutes each day can bring much needed relief. To sit and “do nothing” for as little as 5 minutes can change your outlook on life, calm your thoughts and have a positive effect on your relationships. Of course, it is not doing nothing. When you sit and pray or meditate silently without words, you are doing something. You are connecting to God.
When we quiet our minds and still our bodies, we allow space for the divine. Of course, we also allow our attention to focus on our pain, emotional and/or physical. Our egos want to get away from pain and get nothing out of meditation, so our mind will come up with a million reasons why we should not do it. There is nothing to accomplish, nothing to “win”, nothing to show for it or feel superior about. To sit without words feels like doing nothing. Feels like a waste of time. But it actually is a lot like worship, sabbath, rest and sleep.
Just as meditation looks like doing nothing, so too worship, sabbath, rest and sleep may all look like a waste of time. They feel to us like we are doing nothing. But they are vital to our health and sense of wellbeing. They are necessary for health on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level. A parishioner at my last church, who had sustained 3rd degree burns over 75% of his body used to remind me that “we heal when we sleep”. He slept a lot as he was recovering from those burns, and he reminded me of the importance of sleep. That lesson has stuck with me: we heal when we sleep. We are not doing nothing when we sleep. And like sleep, when we worship, when we take time off, when we meditate and spend quiet time away, we are allowing healing and connecting with God in our true selves to happen.
You will hear many messages this month about doing: Vote! Protest! Shop! Stock up! Buy! Sell! Protect! Be informed! Read! Do! Go! Get ‘er done! Work! Learn! Messages about rest, worship, sleep or meditation will be few and far between at best. But you can choose. You can choose to fill every minute of every day with activity, and you can also choose to stop once in a while. Just like a good conversation involves both talking and listening, so a connected life involves “going” and “stopping.”
God’s peace to you as you seek connection with the divine and as you realize that God desires it even more than you do.
Pastor Bob Albing