My current reading pursuit The Rest of God is turning out to be interesting and challenging as I expected it to be. In chapter two, Buchanan starts to clarify what he means by Sabbath time. As I feared, simply taking time off does not qualify as Sabbath. Of course, when he explains why, the reason this type of rest doesn’t quite refresh makes sense. He says:
“We all know how unsatisfying mere leisure can be. We’ve all known what it’s like to return to the classroom or the workplace after a time spent in revelry or retreat..typically, we go back weary and depressed, like jailbirds caught. The time away from work wasn’t time sanctified so much as time stolen, time when we escaped for a short-lived escapade.”
That description echoes with me. I like my job (most days), but still, if I’ve spent time on Sunday just vegetating or even doing productive things that are “not school”, I often find around 7:00 or 8:00 a cloud starts to sink in. Work starts again bright and early Monday morning. I’ve just rested, but I still don’t feel ready to give anything to others. No. Give me one more day. Let me sit awhile longer.
However, Buchanan points out that the Greek language had two words for time. The one is chronos, and it reflects the rat race, one thing after the other drive to just keep up with relentless time. The other kind of time though is kairos time. Buchanan says, “In kairos time you ask, not ‘What time is it?’ but ‘What is this time for?'” He says if you can start to give thought to your ways (Proverbs 14:8), then moments become precious. You start to see more function and even beauty in everything you do, and you start to be able to find true refreshment comparable to quality time with one you love. Buchanan says, “Sanctifying some time [approaching with the kairos perspective] adds richness to all time, just as an hour with the one you love brings light and levity to the hours that follow. To spend time with the object of your desire is to emerge, not sullen and peevish, but elated and refreshed. You come away filled, not depleted.”
And, now it makes sense to me why, once established, Sabbath can become such an essential part of our rhythm of life. That parallel between sanctified time and time with one you love helps me understand. When I spend time with the one I love, several things happen. I do leave, as Buchanan points out, refreshed. But, I leave with a slightly altered perspective on all else. I leave knowing that whatever I might face, a time of refreshment is ahead. I act, knowing that someone will also see what I do as important, and I prioritize differently so that I may be free to spend time with the one that I love once again.
“What is this time for?” That turns out to be quite a powerful question.