If you know me in real life, you already know this.
I am a talker. I love conversation. I always have music on. (Hello Pandora. How did I live without you?) I thrive on chaos, and I actually function better in a noisy environment (such as a newsroom) than I do in a quiet one (such as my radio-free bedroom where my parents insisted I do my algebra homework, which completely explains that C).
So the fact that my blog has been silent for two weeks now is uncharacteristic, to say the least.
But in a twist I couldn’t have anticipated, it’s also a fitting start for 2011.
A few years ago, I saw a pattern emerge among writers I respect. Many of them prayed about a word or theme for each calendar year, a spiritual focal point that would direct their annual journey. I liked the idea. It would help the sanguine side of my brain stay focused and give the organized side of my brain an objective.
So last month, I started asking God if there was a subject He would like me to concentrate on this coming year.
I got an answer almost immediately, and I was simultaneously so shocked and excited about it, I kept it a secret for a good long while. (Another uncharacteristic action.)
My word for 2011 is Sabbath. The seed for this particular concept was planted by my MOPS Bible study last fall. Together, we studied "The Life You've Always Wanted"by John Ortberg, a book about the spiritual disciplines (and NOT the prosperity gospel as the horrible title might suggest).
Ironically, the concept of Sabbath is not a spiritual discipline. It’s a spiritual command. (Gulp.) But it’s heartbeat pulses through the disciplines – especially in practices like silence, slowing, having a well-ordered heart, even celebration. (Surprised by that last one? So was I.)
So this year, I embark on a journey of discovery. I suspect learning about the Sabbath – the why, what, when, where, who and how, to use journalism slang – will have trickle-down effects in every area of my life.
And so, I let my blog (and Twitter and Facebook account) lie mostly fallow these past two weeks. I refused to listen to the oily, whiny voice that tries to tell me I’m losing relevance by staying offline, as if my value is summed up by the number of comments I get. I wanted to walk away from the self-imposed burden that says my public voice matters more than my private one.
It stung to do it – like the pulling of a scab that has practically become a part of my body. But I can already feel the healing taking place.
In 2006, I read an interview with Eugene Peterson that has haunted me ever since. In it, Peterson is asked, “What spiritual practice has most shaped your walk with God?”
Keeping a weekly Sabbath – a day my wife and I define as “praying and laying.” A day we don’t do anything that has to be done.That’s what I want. That’s what I’m after.
When we realized that the command and to keep a Sabbath is one of the most repeated in Scripture and yet the most ignored in our culture, we had to readjust radically the way we were living. No other decision has made as much difference to our lives across the board. It has impacted our marriage, children, church life, friendships, writing … the works.
Sabbath-keeping shifted our attention away from what we were doing for God to what God was doing for us. Our work became subsumed in His.
May the Lord of the Sabbath be loud in the silence this coming year.
If you're interested in what words other bloggers have chosen for 2011:
SortaCrunchy : Give
Emerging Mummy : Enough
Holy Experience : Here
Laura Parker : NOT Cynical
Also, to clarify, I'm not going to be completely silent in 2011. (Sorry Corey.) It was just a healthy and necessary start for me as I contemplate what Sabbath might look like in my life.