The fact that for most of our culture today, September 4, marks a new season or even a "new year" says something about us.
For centuries, millennia even, new seasons and years were marked for humanity by the world around us - the phases of the moon, the movement of the earth around the sun, flooding season or drought season. Humanity recognized, at a basic level, that there were things outside our control. Yes, we worked hard day by day, but there was something . . . someone outside of us.
Then, science happened. I mean the modern Scientific Revolution, which had a great deal of influence on the Enlightenment which followed.
I like science. I'm thankful for science. Science is allowing me to type this in my office knowing that I'll be able to send it out to you through the interwebs (whatever those are!) in a few minutes.
And with science came discoveries and inventions and production and industrialization and standardization and, ultimately, education. There is a lot of great stuff that came with all the scientific discovery over the past 400 years. It's allowed us to grow to where we are no longer controlled by these forces outside of ourselves. Sure, we get power outages and snowstorms sometimes, but those are blips on the radar compared to our ability to generally control things ourselves.
But we also lost something. It seems to me we've lost the sense that there is something more beyond us. Our days are now started by alarm clocks and ended with Netflix or the evening news. Our months are marked by financial reports, rent/mortgage due dates, and board meetings. Our seasons are marked by government-mandated long weekends and shopping sales. (Is Halloween candy on store shelves yet??) Our years are marked by educational calendars.
In our quest for freedom from being controlled by the world outside of us, we've in turn created an artificial structure that controls us even more than the one humanity has fought to leave behind. It seems that in the midst of progress we've grabbed so much control of things that we've lost a sense of the transcendent and in losing that we've become bound to a concrete world of our own making.
We can't turn back the clocks to a time before progress. And I like the internet so I don't think I'd want to! But what can I do to reclaim a sense of the transcendent and gain some control over my schedule, rather than the other way around? Here are a couple of thoughts:
- Take intentional time to turn of the notifications, unplug and be in nature. It could be gardening, going for a walk, dancing in the rain, having a snowball fight . . . whatever! Do it alone and do it together with those you love. Maybe even do it when it isn't convenient for your schedule and see what happens.
- Take a nap. For some of us, this is easy. For others, this is so hard because there is always more to do. Taking a nap can be an intentional exercise is recognizing that not everything is up to us. Maybe your nap is not actual sleep, but intentionally stopping working. We can never get everything done. I cannot reply to every message, phone call, or request for my time. I need to find a way to live out the reality that the world doesn't require me to keep on running.
- Practice Sabbath. I've talked about this several times before. Here is something to remind you about what Sabbath is about - https://www.emotionallyhealthy.org/4-steps-to-a-meaningful-sabbath/
Today, with the start of the new school year, we do enter a new season. I hope and pray that during this season we can rediscover an experience of our transcendent God in which we can find freedom and rest and hope and peace and wonder. Something that comes, not by adding something else into our calendar, but by opening our hands and receiving a gift from our loving Father.