10 January, 2009


  1. The seventh day of the week, Saturday, observed as the day of rest and worship by the Jews and some Christian sects. Exodus 20:8-11
  2. The first day of the week, Sunday, observed as the day of rest and worship by most Christians. Friday is the Sabbath for Muslims.
  3. (sometimes lowercase) a period of prayer or rest.

Rest period. Rest. Period.

This concept of Sabbath is what I am prayerfully contemplating on this the first Saturday of January, 2009 because I had "one of those weeks" where I was already running around like it was the last week of an old year with tons of last minute action items to complete before expiration. Does the run-on sentence begin to give you a feel for what I mean?

My weary and haggard reflection in the mirror, belied the fact that it was only one week into the new year. I was not amused and I knew I had to take a different look at things. Today's daily guide in the Science of Mind Magazine had a quote that put it all into perspective for me:
"Because we want to succeed so much, we don't rest; because we don't rest, we lose our way." Wayne Muller

It all made sense to me now. In my desire to succeed in this new job, in this new city, in this new church, in this new year, etc. I had been having numerous sleepless nights, and humanly efforting to get things done. I became unclear and my Vision hazy, or as the quote implied, losing my way. Harumph.

Yes, I know about self-care-- R & R, exercising, eating well -- I preach and I teach it. I tried to practice it, too... Despite Yoda's insistent reminder that there is no try only do, I have wrestled with the dichotomy in applying his wisdom to the implementation of self-care because rest is supposed to be all about not DOing. In keeping with this week that included the Epihany, I indeed had mine today.

I am very good about Self-care (capitalized 'S' on purpose) doing God's work and not so good about self-care (lowercase 's' representing lil' ol me and me alone). I missed the obvious. Since capital ' s ' Self (that Higher Presence that is Spirit) must and does include (lowercase ' s ' ) self (the individualized expression of that Presence) it stands to reason and principle that the concept and expression of Self-care (that includes a spiritual practice a higher devotion of Spirit in all ways) includes caring for oneself.

( Whew. I feel like I just tried to simultaneously rub my tummy and pat my head by only using nouns and pronouns via text alone).

When the "Aha!" settled, I was grateful that I had no longer need a cosmic 2' x 4' to get my attention. Nor did I need to wait days, weeks, months, etc. I was given my epiphanic understanding and now I could rest on the Sabbath.

It used to cause me great consternation that I once worked with a ministerial colleague who always managed to leave at a certain hour or day to go to the gym no matter what was going on at church or even if the projects weren't complete. He and another minister I knew, would always leave work when it was "quittin' time" to tend to their personal lives (read that as balance) even though I thought I was being so noble (read that as self-righteous) in staying on extra hours to try and 'get caught up' or to just do a little bit more . At the time when I attended Fairfax High School, the student body was primarily Jewish, and a good percentage of the students were Orthodox, too. I remember a fellow student, Grace, who came from a strict Orthodox Jewish family had trouble in making all the rehearsals and performances we had in the Drama department because she was not allowed to use the phone or drive, or use other electronic devices on a Saturday. That made no sense to me at all. Not that I didn't have some sensitivity to a religious practice but in my ignorance that orthodoxy would not apply if one was a Thespian and had a show to produce. Clearly, as a teenager I did not understand the merits of such a sacred and wise practice.

Now it has become essential that I authorize and manage for myself the ability to have rest, relaxation, recreation and and private time. The way I am personally wired I have to have what some people refer to as "cave time" and be away from not only crowds and people, but noise, EMF's, or, more simply put, anything that is a Should ... Must ... or Have on my To-Do Lists.

Starting today, I am going to implement a practice of Sabbath on my Saturdays (which happen to be my day off from work) and invite, create and establish a practice of rest and be at choice as to what activities and actions fill my day. There will always be a gazillion things to do--either creative or practical--and the lists will always be there. I realized that not everything is going to get done--it never will. And that's OK because life is not static nor is it a list of things you just check off until you die. Nope. Starting now, R & R is more than a railroad to me.

Mazel Tov.

06 January, 2009

Two weeks and counting . . .

There are two more weeks before the inauguration of our new President in this new year.

Recently, I received an e-mail from the Obama organization offering a chance to win a ticket to the Inauguration. Not sure what the criteria might be for how they select the winners --whether it is a random drawing and/or based on the essay they asked us to write as to what the Inauguration means to me. Initially, I dismissed the idea of entering or writing something as I guesstimated they will probably choose very specific people to represent certain aspects of the new order. Yet, I woke up this morning with my essay writing itself through me and I decided that whether or not I win, the fact that I am being offered this opportunity was a grand thing. And I know that what I write and set out in my intention does make a difference so I wanted to share it and make it real:

What doesn't this inauguration (and Presidency) mean to me?

For the first time, since I was a child in the Kennedy era, I can watch television again and not avert my eyes when the President of the U.S. comes on to speak. And not only will I be watching, I can listen to what our (new) President will say because he is articulate, compassionate, intelligent, educated and yes, even funny.

Born in Chicago of humble roots, I was an only child raised by a single-mom. I am not a minority (well, being female, some may disagree with that) and mine is not a tragic hard-luck story but one of feisty independence to achieve my dreams. What I am is an educated non-denominational minister who teaches and preaches about change, accountability, self-reliance, faith and love. My new position as Pastor at my church calls for me to handle many similar that things that face President Obama. So I actively prayed for us both. My being hired for this congregation and the Obama/Biden campaign/election is proof of the proverbial pudding of affirmative change and unwaivering hope. This election and now (thankfully) administration is answered prayer...literally. And not just my prayer, but the prayers of our nation and other countries to once again have leadership emanating from the White House. President Obama and our new First Family is answered prayer even for those people that did not vote for him --they just don't know it yet.

Attending this inauguration would be the icing on the cake. For this is a time of joy; a manifestation of long, hard work and deep and abiding prayerful knowing. It would be an opportunity to literally stand in support and celebration of the man, the family --and gosh, soon, the dog, I hope -- that I can endorse and support with every fiber of my being--and to do so in representation of what I teach from the pulpit. (Not to mention it would be my official permission slip to get out of teaching class at church that night and having to record the entire day on my VCR...)

The fact that this opportunity is being offered to us--the United States citizens--already reflects the change I want to see and be in the world.
For this and so much more, I thank all the people that are and have been in support of our new President and work alongside him to create the country of our highest vision.

My blessings of Joy and Light, and with peace,

Rev. Duchess Dale
Chico, CA

...and so it is!

City Slackers

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