What’s a Weekend?

Friday, May 16, 2014 – 4 Easter, Year Two

[Go to Mission St Clare for an online version of the Daily Office including today’s scripture readings.]

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office:

Psalms 40, 54 (morning) // 51 (evening)

Exodus 34:18-35

1 Thessalonians 3:1-13

Matthew 5:27-37

I once met a woman who had a very intriguing way of balancing her professional life and her creative pursuits. She worked as an accountant for a very intense four-month period every year, from January until tax day in April. She made enough money during tax season to sustain her for the rest of the year. So, from late April through December, she was a novelist.

I’ve always admired the way that this woman was able to meet her practical needs while still committing herself to her deeper aspirations. She accomplished this balance by somewhat starkly dividing her life into a busy season of exclusively making and counting money, and a restful season of as-yet unprofitable creative writing.

However, this pattern of life contrasts with the more balanced rhythm that our first reading today recommends. In his covenant with his people, the Lord establishes the familiar weekly schedule: “Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest.” God then goes on to add in, I presume, a very firm tone: “even in plowing time and in harvest time you shall rest.”

In other words, God wants us to resist the tendency to lump our lives into intense seasons of work and seasons that are more relaxed. God asks us to even out the pace of our lives, integrating rest into busy-ness, even in our most intense periods: plowing time, harvest time, finals week, tax season, the Christmas shopping season, Lent and Holy Week, election years, etc. In these busy seasons, we still need to honor God’s commandment to rest.

I certainly don’t want to criticize the way that the woman I met has organized her life in order to fulfill her sense of vocation as well as her practical needs. Seasonal demands are a reality of careers from agriculture to accounting. But God still refuses to entertain our objection, “but it’s my busy season!”

What small steps can we take toward evening out the pace of our lives? The day before the weekend is a great time to think about it. Even if we’re in the middle of plowing or harvesting, can we find a way to respond to God’s invitation to rest?

Lora Walsh blogs about taking risks and seeking grace at A Daily Scandal. She serves as curate of Grace Episcopal Church in Siloam Springs and as director of the Ark Fellows, an Episcopal Service Corps program sponsored by St. Paul’s in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

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