By the seventh day God had finished the work God had been doing; so on the seventh day God rested from all God’s work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all the work of creating that God had done. (Genesis 2:2-3)
We are continuing our series on the curriculum, “Creation Speaks” that many of our camps will be using this summer. The scriptures that ground the series are based on the seven days of creation passage from Genesis 1:1 - 2:3.
This week we take a look at the seventh day, the day of completion, rest, and reflection, the day that is sometimes called sabbath.
I find this idea of sabbath to be essential for our well-being, and I say this because I direct a retreat center, but maybe not for the reasons you would expect. I am very well aware of the value of sabbath, because it is a challenge for me to practice it well.
I think to myself, sabbath is for when the tasks are completed, and yet I continue to focus on the tasks not yet done, and so I put off time to reflect, time to relax, time to focus on the deep peace of God.
I work hard to provide sacred space for other people, forgetting that merely being in proximity to the Divine is not the same as intentionally entering the space of holiness myself.
And I think that I am not alone in this. We may tell ourselves the lie that we can rest only when our task is done, and then create ever-growing lists. We may focus on caring for others without taking the time to nurture our own spirit.
I encourage you, as you are about to embark on the busy-ness of summer, a time when our normal schedules may fall to the wayside, to be intentional about setting aside time for rest and reflection.
It makes my heart sing to imagine us all taking more time to rest and reflect, to intentionally enter into the presence of the Divine, so much so that I think it’s time for me to stop writing and go for a walk in the woods to rest and reflect.
In peace and hope,
Director of Alton L. Collins Retreat Center
*PHOTO: Participants pray, sing, and rest during a Taizé retreat at the Alton L. Collins Retreat Center (Todd Bartlett).
Last week our nation was shattered again with another school shooting. While it is a relief that it did not happen in Oregon or Idaho, I feel a deep sadness about this event. We know that there are many factors that are required for something like this to happen. Our tendency is to reduce it down to one thing and usually that is to place the responsibility and blame somewhere else. As people of faith I believe that we are called to examine what it is that we can do to contribute to the well-being of God’s people in an effort to reduce and hopefully eliminate future events like this.
In Camp and Retreat Ministries we strive to provide sacred spaces of Christian hospitality and learning so that people may experience God, engage with Creation, develop relationships with one another and the Earth, and to act with justice in the world. All of this is done in the hopes that we will live in a world of wonder, love, and justice. (Dr. Cornell West said, “Justice is what love looks like in public.”)
We believe that our work is contributing to the well-being of our communities and providing tools that allow children, youth, and adults to find methods of dealing with their struggles in ways that avoid violence and the unnecessary grief that those in Buffalo and Uvalde are experiencing right now.
We believe that all who come to our sites are seeking some sort of change in their lives. Whatever the change is that they seek, we pray that it brings healing, deeper faith, greater connections with others, and with creation so that one day, we will live in a world of wonder, love, and justice. It begins today with you and me. Let us walk this road for ourselves and for all of our siblings.
See you on the adventure ahead,
Rev. Todd Bartlett
Executive Director of Camp and Retreat Ministries
Why is it that it's OK for God to take a rest from hard work (Genesis 2:2-3, above), but we can't allow ourselves to do it? Do we somehow see ourselves as stronger than God? More indispensable than God? In refusing to take sabbath time, we are failing to follow the example God set for us from the very beginning of creation.
As Dan Benson points out, camp and retreat ministries does a great job of offering space for sabbath to others, but we're not always very good at creating sabbath time for ourselves. You can help us by reminding us of the importance of sabbath and by volunteering to do tasks at our sites that free our staff to take time to care for themselves. And your financial gifts go a long way in supporting the infrastructure that allows the system to function effectively--which includes healthy doses of sabbath for our staff as well as for our campers and guests.
*PHOTO: This labyrinth at Suttle Lake was created with log rounds from the trees that were thinned in 2020 (Todd Bartlett).