Sabbatical Tears

Listen to this week’s Devotional here.

Author: Chris Braudaway-Bauman

God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all the work of creation (Genesis 2:3)

Sabbath is a ritual practice about time. It recalls for us the story in Genesis when our Creator leaned back to gaze upon all that God had made in six days, sighed deeply, called it good, and rested. But Sabbath is not just time off. It’s time set apart. For us, it’s a sacred pause, a time to lean back into the arms of God, to reflect on the goodness of life, to breathe deeply, and find again the quiet center.

Sabbatical is Sabbath writ large, and as I return to you from the lavishness of such time, I gladly reenter our life together with a renewed spirit and a full well. During my time away, I found a poet, Rosemary Wahtola Trommer, new to me, whose gorgeous words resonate deeply with my own experience and longings, including in this poem.

And there, beneath the white tent,
beneath the blue sky, beneath the stars
I could not see, while spinning somewhere
inside a spiral galaxy, I closed my eyes
and let the sound of flute and piano find me,
an Irish song meant to be played with a wee lilt,
though the tune itself knew something of loss,
and I felt my lungs swell and my heart expand
felt my spine straighten and my soles ground,
and I floated inside the music, stunned and surprised
by the vibrant inheritance of being alive. I hummed
with full cellular resonance and then, I was crying—
a warm spilling of tears—for what?
for beauty? for loss? for living with both in one breath?
What was it the tears meant? Oh friends,
as I felt it all with no attempt to push it away,
I was wildly, alively content.

Among the many gifts of my sabbatical was time to catch up with old friends I haven’t seen face to face in years, including some folks you also got to meet. As Quinn Caldwell and I were preparing for his time with us, I invited him to bring his whole family for vacation. Quinn told me he was so overwhelmed by the beauty of Rocky Mountain National Park that it made him weep. I think I knew it would. And I could feel the lump in my own throat as I talked with Quinn’s husband Terry during their visit about his work. Terry, the Director of Quality – Research at SUNY Medical University, was directly responsible for overseeing clinical trials on the Pfizer COVID19 vaccine. Even now, my eyes fill with tears as I think about how grateful I am to him for his part in saving your lives – for saving all our lives, allowing us to breathe safely and deeply, and to embrace again more fully our life together.

In the post with her poem, Rosemary Trommer adds a question: What were you doing when you last felt content? It’s a lovely question to contemplate. I want to add another: What do you need in order to be sustained in the contentment and goodness of your life, to breathe deeply, and to find yourself leaning back in the arms of God?

I hope your answer includes church.

See you Sunday!

P.S. Worship on Sunday, September 11, moves to 10:30 am in the Sanctuary and on YouTube, followed by an All-Church Picnic at Foothills Community Park, 800 Cherry Avenue. If you’d like to hear Quinn’s summer sermons to us, go to Line and Viable.


Leave Comment