Monday, June 28, 2010

Creating Ritual

I have been challenged to create a ritual to help me in the starting of my day off, my Sabbath.  Today it seems like the most prevelant ritual is TGIF ... going out for a drink or something special to initiate the weekend.  Obviously there are more detailed and beautiful rituals in the Jewish faith for the starting of the Sabbath.  Recently I am becoming more and more of the value of ritual and the deliberate work it takes to create them.  Rituals get their power through repetition and through intentionality.  I think my laid-back nature tends to make it hard for me to practice ritual well, but at the same time there are unintentional ways that I am creating ritual all the time.  I say a similar offering prayer every week, moving my hands in similar ways.  I pray the same pray before I preach (unless I forget).  All of these things work, intentionally or otherwise to create rituals for me, for the congregation I serve.

So what are good rituals to create when it comes to time off, Sabbath, the weekend.  Is it a time of silence observed at the end of work ... a release of what I have been working on and an emptying before beginning a time of rest?  Is it a "drink" at the end of the day ... some way of clearly marking that work is done because the fun has begun?  When does the event occur?  At sundown?  When the last meeting is over on Thursday?  Before I leave "the office" or when I get home?  Maybe the reason that pastors, myself include struggle with having a healthy Sabbath time is that we struggle with the boundaries of our Sabbath.  When you work odd hours and work outside an office as well as in it there is not a clear transition point ... that 5 pm Friday commute where you move from the world of work to the world of the weekend.  We talk about boundary violations in ministry a lot, but usually we are referring to boundaries between people.  Instead we maybe need to be talk about boundary violations between our time and God's time ... between work and rest.  To begin to talk about that I think we first need to find ways to mark the boundaries ... otherwise it is hard to know when we have crossed the line.  Pastors really do need ritual to help us move from one space to another.