Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Forced Sabbath

I cannot fast today.

Not in the traditional sense, not in the Wesleyan sense, not in the not consuming food sense.

There's this pill I need to consume soon to calm the pain that is raging down my left shoulder and gathering at my elbow and shooting down to numb three fingers of my left hand. It's an anti-imflammatory. And soon, I'll take it after some toast and an egg and some two-day old coffee and wonder if it's doing any good.

Then, around lunchtime, when I can stand the pain no longer, I'll take the other pill. The stronger one. The one to kill the pain. But it doesn't really kill the pain, it simply masks it for a while. It does not require nourishment, but I have not dared to take it on an empty stomach.

I cannot fast today.

But I will rest.

And I will pray.

And I will seek the source of that which we call God. I will seek the voice of the Divine from which I sensed a call into ministry so many summers ago. And I will dare to ask: Are You sure?

In the day that remains before my next appearance before the District Committee on Ordained Ministry, I will find a way to contemplate, to consider, to open myself to the mystery and seek to understand or to be content in not understanding.

I cannot fast from food today.

But I will fast.

And I will pray.

I will fast from any of the distraction or misdirections or diversions I create to distance myself from myself and in so doing distance myself from the source and hope of my call into humanity and my call into reality and my call into my best possible future.

I will fast from any illusions of who I might be or might have been and live and pray into the reality of who I am.

I will fast from busy-ness. I will fast, for a day, from any sense of deadline or duty. For what in my life has more urgency than centering myself into myself and centering myself into the presence of the Divine to know what to do next.

And as I fast and rest and pray, a part of me will wonder if the disc that suddenly bulged out of place below my neck, between my shoulders, slipped out when I tried to lift a heavy object that has never seemed like a burden to me.

Did it slip out then or was it the new experience of bocce, a ball rolled gently and precisely across a lawn, a ball that is a fraction of the weight of the bowling balls I sometimes hurl across the room -- the bowling alley room -- as a form of spiritual practice?

Or was this disc finally forced onto my nerves from years of carrying my stress and worry in this very region of my body?

Regardless the cause, this bulging disc, this searing pain, has forced a sabbath. A sabbath of unknown duration.

Today, I will spend that sabbath at rest.

At rest and at prayer.

And, while I will consume needed food, I will not consume myself.

I will not consume time in order to prevent finding myself with time on my hands to to consider who I am.

I will not consume unnecessary energy with what ifs and will instead contemplate what is.

I will not consume other people's idea of art -- not Mad Men, not Eat, Pray, Love, not Oprah or Ellen. I will seek my own.

And, as my favorite answer to the hardest commissioning and ordination questions goes, I will, with God's help, seek to understand who I am, where I am, how I came to be here and how I live into a future that seems more unknown and uncertain than that night on the UCSD track not quite 10 years ago, when a voice inside me said: You need to be a Methodist minister.

I will fast.

I will rest.

I will pray.

May it be so.


1 comment:

Jeri said...

It's a beautiful fast...and I will pray too, for your ministry and for tomorrow's discernment as just one of the many times of the discernment of ministry.