shifting gears to Shabbat

Posted: March 11, 2013 in Uncategorized

It is 7:30 Friday night and i am in the train station, ready to catch my ride to Chicago for a weekend visit to JPUSA.

I am struggling to shift gears.

My life in Davenport is stuffed as full as I know how to stuff it.  I am scheduled in blocks of times sometimes as small as 15 minutes.  The only way I have “down time” is that I schedule it.  So even when I’m relaxing, one eye is on the clock and I’m aware that it never stops ticking. 

I get a lot done because I shove those little blocks of time full.  While I’m eating, I’m writing or reading.  Anytime I can be accomplishing 2 goals simultaneously, I’m all over it.  I’m full of purpose, almost always. 

So I arrive at the train station in “purpose” mode.  Hustling, checking everything twice.  Trying to figure out what I’ll write for the day.  Pushing the noise and distractions away from me – I don’t have time to notice them.  I’ve got stuff to do.

Meanwhile, I am texting with my guy Gary in my spastic way.  And he reminds me…”It’s Shabbat.  Rest.”

Oh.  Yeah. 

Because I’ve been hustling, I’ve forgotten about Shabbat.  These last few months, I have been learning its practice.  Come home by sundown.  Light candles and pray prayers from my Siddur (Jewish prayer book) with Gary on video chat.  Bread and juice and more prayers. 

And then…just sit there.  Just relax.  Just BE.  Watch the flames dance atop the candles.  Watch the view outside of my window change.  Chat with Gary. 

I’m not good at just relaxing.  Sometimes it feels like I’ve been forgetting how.  Sometimes while we talk, I walk away from the candles and start unthinkingly doing the dishes.  The “to do” list just talks so loud, and I’ve learned so well tht when I let it get ahead of me, it steals my peace.

Gary is patient when I am restless.  Doesn’t chide me.  No lecturing or stern reproach.  Just lets me be me, and occasionally gently reminds me…rest. 

Oh.  Yeah. 

I know when I reach my destination, I will be “on JPUSA time,” which can sometimes be  something akin to Mexico with its never-ending “manana.”  TO ME, at least, it is a world set apart from the insane pace to which I have grown so accustomed.  A place where people don’t get frantic about being on time, don’t run around multi-tasking, don’t answer the “how are you” question with a recitation of how backed up they are or how many events are in the coming week. 

It was a hard thing to get used to, when I lived there, but it was good.  I think it’s more like the way we are meant to live.  A reasonable pace.  Time for pauses.  Time to stop and talk long and be real, and not just say hi while hustling on by to the next thing.

I miss it.  And at the same time, here at 7:55 on a Friday night, I feel like I’m never going to calm down to that level.  Never going to relax.  I feel like i don’t remember how.  I’m trying for it, fighting for it, but the noise and chaos and bouncing, uncomfortable energy in me is heedless of my effort.

Good thing I have my very own “tour guide” in Gary to draw me there.  And Holy Spirit, beckoning, encouraging me to let go of the hustle and just BE for a little while.

It’s a good gift.


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