Thursday, August 5, 2010

Sabbath*

We’d been looking forward to it for weeks – our weekend getaway to the mountains to recharge our batteries and rejuvenate our souls. After a while the business of life, no matter how necessary or otherwise rewarding, just gets redundant, repetitive, routine. We needed a break; we needed some perspective; we needed a Sabbath.

When we get that way, we usually head to our favorite place – the Pisgah Inn on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The former hunting lodge of George Vanderbilt, the Inn has the rustic charm and scenic beauty that is for us a place of Sabbath – rest, refreshment and rejuvenation. It refreshes our souls…“re-souls our souls,” as the Hebrew of 2 Sam. 16:14 puts it. I love the language of that passage. David, fleeing his son, Absalom, who had usurped his throne, abandoned Jerusalem and trekked to the wilderness of Judea, most likely the oasis of En Gedi. And when he arrived at the Jordan, bone weary and dog tired, the text says, “and there he refreshed himself.” But that hardly does justice to the original Hebrew which says, “and there he re-souled his soul (Heb. vaynaphesh, nephesh being Hebrew for “soul”). That’s what the Parkway and the Inn does for us – it “re-souls our souls.”

But when we arrived on Sunday afternoon, the fog on the mountain was as thick as pea soup. You couldn’t see a thing! No driving on the Parkway visiting the scenic overlooks; no photographing wildflowers; no picking wild blueberries – just gray pea soup. We checked into our room, had dinner, and then retreated to our balcony to “enjoy the view.” We knew the mountains were there; we just couldn’t see them. For two days we stumbled around in the fog trying to gain our footing and our perspective. Then, on Tuesday morning the fog lifted and there they were – the mountains in all their regal splendor. They had been there all along. And it occurred to me that this cloudy confinement was just what we needed – vayanaphesh. It was for us Sabbath. We sat and talked and reflected with no agenda, no lists, no deadlines. The coerced confinement had enabled us to rest in the deep, biblical sense of that word – to “re-soul our souls.”

As I sat there in the foggy tranquility of a Sabbath Sunday, I couldn’t help but think of David’s song of solitude (Did he write it at En Gedi?) in Psalm 37:7:

Be still before the LORD, and wait patiently for him.

Be still before the LORD and wait patiently…

Be still before the LORD and wait…

Be still before the LORD…

Be still…

Be….

*For more on this concept, see Don Postema's Catch Your Breath: God's Invitation to Sabbath Rest

1 comment:

stephanie said...

Enjoyed this one. Mike, the kids and I make a pilgrimage to Pisgah every summer. We camp across the street from the Inn however.
We have never actually stayed at the Inn in all the years we have visited. We love the restaurant and usually save a good outfit to enjoy the food on the last night of camping. Just wanted to share. Much Love,
Stephanie