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Spacious Sanctuary

Wendell Berry wrote a series of poems about Sabbath and taking time to let the spirit mend and heal. Wayne Muller wrote a book called Sabbath and provided a number of Sabbath practices from various traditions. After we read the book, we used practices and wrote reflections about how we each responded to them at a hospitality retreat.

How each find moments of peace and solace in a busy world is personal and reflects who we are as humans. For me, it is time spent walking, reading poetry, and writing. It is challenging as I need to adhere to a routine without being to rigid. What I observe, feel, hear, etc. needs to able to reach me in meaningful ways.

I wrote this poems as I entered a lengthy Sabbath period, taking time away from screens of various types.

Stepping aside–

Easing into spacious spaces;

Sensing stillness–

Unsquaring eyes,

Fidgeting less,



Embracing wakefulness;

Emerging from frenetic hibernation–

Moving yet remaining still–

Enriching spirit,

Rediscovering lightness of being.

I took this picture on a hike in Glacier National Park. Nature just is. It exists for the sole purpose of existing. Humans need to do this more; just be in a given moment or time.

Sabbath – Making One’s Self More Human

It has been a while since I wrote about the concept of Sabbath where I disconnect to reconnect. I allude to it in The Greater Scheme. It is a practice I am trying to get back into on a regular basis. Wendell Berry writes poetry on the theme and Wayne Muller wrote Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in Our Busy Lives. It is taking a pause.

Muller cuts across demoninations, traditions, faiths, and philosophies. I used it at a retreat several years ago. There were people who did not see themselves as religious or bound to a particular tradition. What we are often looking for is a spiritual space to heal, make whole. Heal and whole share an etymological root.

Too often, in a busy world, we forget to slow down. Hannah Arendt wrote the Ancient Greeks leaned towards contemplation (vita comtemplativa), while in modern society we remain forever in motion (vita activa). Neither is healthy; health shares the same etmology with whole and heal.

Parker Palmer, drawing on Thomas Merton, proposes we bring harmony between the two. It is a way of feeling at home, the core of who we each are and where we belong. The word hearth, which is the heart of our home, shares etymology with heal, whole, and health.

The poem and picture in the post The Greater Scheme was taken as part of a walking meditation activity, where the teacher asked us to look at the world as if through new eyes. It is, when I am in harmony with myself, I am most creative. At the same time, I was involved in a monthly conference call with critical friends and was interviewed about some work I did related to mindful servant-leadership as it applied to teaching. I think the peaceful feeling I felt emerged from the silence and solitude at the retreat, the critical exploring of my self, and the creative work I was engaged in at the time.

Spacious, silence, solitude…

Seeking refuge,

A peaceful room.

Lovingkindness discovers–

A heart breaks open,

The present its own reward.

Silently spirit revealing–


Softly, gently, tenderly,

Begging its quiet voice be heard.

Solace seeks me–

Unmarked path emerging,

A step at a time.


Wisdom revealing itself,

Making more human.

I took this picture on a hike into Kootenai Lake in Glacier National Park earlier that summer. We saw a handful of people and the hike was peaceful, disconnecting us from the busyness of life for an entire day.

Sabbath’s Circle

Have a great 23rd of July, 2012.

A virtuous circle

Begins at the end

Ends at the beginning.

A source of refuge

Moments of discovery within

No urgency

Besides just breathing.

Just be

With all nature’s cycles

Brings wholeness

Sabbath liberates.

I find life events are increasingly filled with synchronicity. When I posted the poem Auditory Illusion, I had listened to a thunderstorm chase itself in and out of the Spokane area. It thundered overhead, moved off, and returned several times circling in and out of the area for about an hour. After the post, I reflected on life’s circularity as it is and scribbled some thoughts down before going to bed last night.

I heard the rain differently than it was. It sounded like the storm was over, yet, when I got up, it was raining hard. The eaves of the building had tempered the sound. Today, in Wayne Muller’s Sabbath, he wrote about the etymological roots of the words absurd and obedient. Absurd is from the Latin surdus which means deaf and obedient from the Latin to listen. Yesterday, listening or mislistening to the storm and its intensity reminded me of the frequency I misunderstand parts of life and its relationships. Wayne Muller was friend of Henri Nouwen and said he was “a fiercely astute observer of our worried, overfilled lives [and that] … the noise of our lives made us deaf, unable to hear when we are called, or from which direction” (p. 84). I am commited to daily moments of silence and a weekly Sabbath to help me listen when called.

Wayne Muller concludes each short chapter with a brief reflection for Sabbath. The chapter Let it Be is also the title of my favourite Beatles’ songs. Today, the reflection was from Brother David Steindl-Rast an Austrian monk.

“Let the silence drop like a pebble right into the middle of the day and send its ripples out over its surface in ever-widening circles” (p. 86).

Muller, W. (1999). Sabbath: Restoring the sacred rhythm of rest. New York: Bantam Books.

Sabbath – A Poem

Recently, I posted Humility and referenced Wayne Muller’s book Sabbath: Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest. He suggested we all need to take time, disconnect, and do those things and be with those people in our immediate lives which bring us moments of quiet and refuge. He has offered a new awareness for me of what was missing in my life, a calm, tranquil, restful time I share with those immediately around me and my self. I am disconnected for the next 36 hours. I will just be.

I leave with a found poem of sorts. I chose words from the book that exemplified my understanding of Sabbath. I look forward to comments and likes when I return on Monday morning.

Shine the light

Reveal a next step

On the journey.

Moments of remembrance

Blessing gifts received

Delight in life

Reflect in wonder.

Uplift the spirit

Care for the body

Rest your soul

Take refuge

Take sanctuary

In the moment

Hibernate, lie fallow.

Insight, wisdom, compassion

Arise from stillness

A bell chimes

Time transformed

Mindfulness consecrates the day

Timeless words revere the day.

Bring forward

Right speech, right action, right effort

Break bread



Heal, liberate, surrender

Receive and give


In each breath

An inner light attracts

Leads home

In each breath

The rhythms of life, earth, action, rest

The Sabbath arrives.

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