I am currently serving for two weeks as a visiting pastor for a small historic church (built in 1878) in the village of Fish Creek in Door County, Wisconsin. The Church of the Atonement is only open in the summertime and is served by guest clergy who come every couple of weeks throughout the summer. It is a special place in the heart of Door County.
For those of you not familiar with Door County, it is the long peninsula that extends up into Lake Michigan north of the city of Green Bay. It is a quaint string of villages surrounded by beautiful farmland and numerous parks and is sometimes referred to as the Cape Cod of the Midwest. Door County lovers, however, prefer to think of Cape Cod as the Door County of the East.
Last Sunday I preached about the importance of Sabbath time, and Door County was the perfect place to do this because two million people come here each year to rest, renew, and give themselves a time to reset their busy lives. Many families have been coming here for generations to enjoy a slower, more deliberate pace of life.
For many of us, the season of summer includes creating space for some intentional Sabbath time, which often includes time visiting a special place that helps us to shift gears for a weekend, a week, or longer. Summer is a natural time for recreation, a natural time for us to think about taking time to renew and "re-create" our selves.
A story comes to mind that illustrates how important it is to take time for rest and renewal. The story is from long ago and involves two lumberjacks who are near the end of a long day during which they have been cutting down large trees since just after sunup, using an old-fashioned two-person hand saw with one of them on each end pulling back and forth. As the day comes to a close, a passerby happens upon the two lumberjacks and pauses to watch them work their craft. The passerby looks around and sees dozens of large trees that have been felled just that day, but at the same time notices that the lumberjacks are making absolutely no progress on the last tree of the day. They are halfway through the tree, and no matter how hard they work, they cannot make it through this last tree. They finally call it quits and begin to strike up a conversation with the passerby. They point proudly to all the trees that they had cut that day, but then explain that the last several trees took them twice as long to cut and that the last tree was impossible for them to get through. They were perplexed as to why this was but figured they probably just were worn out from all the effort they had exerted, even though they had taken several rest breaks. It was only then that the passerby asked them a critical question, "I'm just curious, how many times during the day did you stop to sharpen the saw?"
Summer is an excellent time for us all to take time to sharpen our saws. Take a moment right now to think about what helps you sharpen your saw. And as you do this, think about it from a holistic perspective. What enables you to sharpen your soul? ..... your heart?.....your mind?..... and your body? The answer to these questions will be different for each of us, but each of us knows what sharpens--and what creates dullness-in our soul/heart/mind/body. Proactive wellness involves knowing what choices and habits we can make to help us create some Sabbath time of rest and renewal, and then following through on the commitment to do those things.
Please notice the critical difference between rest and "sharpening the saw." Making time for "down time" and rest is undoubtedly important, but it is not the same as sharpening the saw, Sharpening the saw provides us with renewed energy and is life-giving. I enjoy resting on the couch and watching a good TV show or an hour of a good ball game, but when I want to truly sharpen my saw I'll go for an hour walk or bike ride, read an inspiring book, or get together with some close friends for some great conversation. In the lumberjack story remember that they took several rest breaks, but what they forgot to do was make time to sharpen the saw.
So, happy beginning of summer everyone. And here's hoping that your summer includes some sabbath time to re-create, renew and sharpen your soul, your marriage, your physical wellness, or a valuable friendship.
Subscribe Now to Weekly Words of Wellness:
Click the button below to signup for the e-mail version of Weekly Words of Wellness. This weekly article can be shared with your community electronically and/or used for group discussion.
You can unsubscribe at any time.