Monday, March 16, 2009

On Sabbath Time

Sabbath time has always been important to me, even when I didn't have a name for it. Since childhood, I have had a deep need for time (a lot of time) alone -- time for thinking, pondering, contemplating, reflecting, marveling. I think my writing grew out of the discoveries I made during my time apart. Writing is my response to what I learn from contemplating the wonderful mysteries of Creation.

This year I am taking a break from writing fiction during Lent. That is my Lenten sacrifice and it has not been easy. I miss writing fiction, which is my animating passion. However, taking a break from doing the thing I love the most has its advantages. For one thing, it has given me the opportunity to appreciate how much I love to write. In addition, by taking away the regular discipline of fiction writing, I seem to have gone into a different mode of creativity. I have been dreaming a lot more, which has given rise to some interesting ideas for new stories. At this point, I'm merely jotting down brief notes for future reference, and refraining from doing any outlining or detailed planning for the stories. Right now, those new stories are in the gestational period, while I'm taking a vacation from laboring over stories. They exist as potential stories to be cherished, loved, nurtured, and -- maybe -- worked into full-blown novels someday.

I am still committed to the exercise of writing every day, so my blogging output has increased because I'm not spending hours every day writing fiction and I have to write something. I am going easy on myself in this department, too, however. No daily word counts or obsessing over quality. These days, when I blog, I just sitting down to write whatever comes to mind. Sabbath time is about resting and recreation, on a variety of levels. My writing these days is totally about having fun.

Lent, for active and committed church members, is often the busiest and most hectic time of the year, what with extra classes, special services,and preparations for The Big Show at Easter. [Extra special kudos to choir members everywhere who have to figure out how to observe Lent while practicing Easter anthems! I was never able to balance those two things.] I have always enjoyed Lenten disciplines, but the Lenten Treadmill wore very thin, and eventually I couldn't take it any more.

Considering the six weeks of Lent as Sabbath time, is a totally different concept, and I'm liking it! For me Lent this year is still a time of intentionally focusing on my relationship with The Holy, but it is also a time of gentle resting, doing something different, getting out of my ordinary rut. I think I may be onto something here!

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