Rest Like an All Black

English: Richie McCaw, New Zealand rugby union...

Richie McCaw, New Zealand rugby union player, in London. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Richie McCaw, the All Black captain some call the best rugby player everhas a plan for winning the next World Cup. It involves a long holiday from rugby.

What a wise and counter-cultural choice. In a society that is not only getting busier, but feeling prouder of the acceleration, the relentlessness of our activity, rest is a four letter word.

But Richie McCaw is taking a longer view. Here’s an excerpt of the Guardian article that came out this week, leading up to the England test:

McCaw’s preparations, yet again, will end with some solitary moments as he reaches for his notebook and a trusty old Warwick 2B4 pencil with which he writes down some familiar instructions to himself. They always begin with the words “Start again” and end with the letters G.A.B. – in reminder to McCaw that, ever since he was a boy, he has aspired to be a Great All Black.

That desire will not disappear during his sabbatical. His chosen break is, instead, meant to replenish his ambition so that he might become the first captain in history to lift the World Cup a second time, when he hopes to lead the All Blacks in the 2015 tournament. “I’d love that but there are no guarantees,” McCaw says. “Before then I want to spend December and January at home and then I’ve given myself three months to travel. I’ve never been to America and so I’ll definitely be spending time in New York and doing some gliding in Nevada.”

McCaw breaks into a helpless smile at that thought. But the same old fiery zeal soon returns. “I probably won’t be able to help myself checking on scores from games back home. And the exciting thing is that I believe I’ll come back even stronger and become a still better player. Who knows if that’s possible? But I feel like I’m giving myself the best chance to make that happen.”

I’m lucky enough to be on the board of my theological college, Carey, where all our lecturers get a sabbatical every three years to spend time away from the classroom, do some travel, some uninterrupted writing, and come back fresher and better.

This year has been something of a sabbatical for our family, as we’ve wandered around the globe reconnecting with friends and family, and learning to live as a family of three. We’re all the better for a break.

For one (small, or maybe not) thing, a year of living with just a carload-ish of possessions has changed how I feel about a house full of stuff. Even my own stuff, which I rather like.

My home organisation obsession on Pinterest has been helpful here too. This weekend we move into our own (rented) place, and unpack about half our stuff from the storage unit. I’ll let you know just how much reformation our sabbatical from stuff has wrought in me.

Do you need to learn to rest? |

Noon – Rest from Work (after Millet), Vincent van Gogh. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Moving from sabbatical – something you need quite a commitment and/or the practical resources to attempt – to the sabbath, which has been part of Jewish and Christian heritage since Moses came down the mountain.

The marvellous Canadian theologian Marva Dawn wrote Keeping the Sabbath Wholly to inspire us busy folks to approach time differently. It’s worth a look (you can click on the book cover at Amazon and check out the contents pages and other extracts).

The subtitle gives her fourfold framework, the things that make up the perfect Sabbath: Ceasing, Resting, Embracing, Feasting. Better than an old-style sit-quietly-reading-the-Bible-all-day Sabbath, yes?

Dawn has chapters not just on ceasing work, but also ceasing anxiety, ceasing possessiveness, ceasing trying to be God.

Physical rest gets a chapter, but so do spiritual rest, emotional rest and ‘aids to rest.’ And how about feasting not just with food, but with beauty, with music, with the eternal?

Israel’s sabbath-keeping wasn’t just about a sensible regime of rest and recreation, but about remembering who they were. God had brought them to freedom from slavery, and a day of rest was a weekly reminder that they were no longer drudges under the lash, but the cherished people of God.

Some form of sabbath-keeping, like the more recent Buy Nothing Day, is a way to step outside cultural constraints and find freedom. Whether we are driven by consumer pressures, Pinterest beautiful-home jealousy, historical perfectionism or the natural desire to provide the best possible environment and stimulation for our kids, how about we just… stop. Every week.

Do you guys sabbath? In any form? Tell us what you and your household do to unplug, and how good or hard it is.

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  1. Pingback: A Quiet December « sacraparental

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