Life is Not an Emergency



photo by Philip Gibson
photo by Philip Gibson

On pretty weekends in the summer, the riverbank is the very verge of the modern world…
On those weekends, the river is disquieted from morning to night by people resting from their work.

This resting involves traveling at great speed, first on the road and then on the river.
The people are in an emergency to relax.
They long for the peace and quiet of the great outdoors.
Their eyes are hungry for the scenes of nature.
They go very fast in their boats.
They stir the river like a spoon in a cup of coffee.
They play their radios loud enough to hear above the noise of their motors.
They look neither left nor right.
They don’t slow down for – or maybe even see – an old man in a rowboat raising his lines…

~Wendell Berry in Jayber Crow

It’s Labor Day, the last of our summer holiday weekends and people are desperate to relax from their labors.  They drive long distances in heavy traffic to get away, wait in long lines for ferry or border passage, park their RVs/tents within 6 feet of another RV/tent, all to end up coping with other people’s noise and hubbub.

I too feel urgency to rest, the need to get away from every day troubles sticking to me like velcro.  But any agenda-filled escape would be too loud, too fast, too contrived instead of a time of winding down, slowing, quieting, observing and wondering.

Life is not an emergency so I must stop reacting as if someone just pulled an alarm.  I seek the peace and quiet of simply being, settling myself into rhythms of daylight and nightfall, awake and asleep, hungry and filled, thirsty and sated.

I breathe deeply, and remember in my bones:

we all need Sabbath, even if today happens to be a Monday.