The hayfields near my house do NOT look like the photo above. They are NOT neat rows of grass, or tidy lines of cut hay, or bales waiting to go on the truck. They're not even stalks cut down for winter or earth tilled in orderly rows. Honestly, the hayfields look like a mess, as if the farmers have given up. And maybe they have! What do I know?!
But I doubt that. I suspect that the hayfields will get one last cut before winter. Or maybe they are being allowed to rest and go to seed? Really, I don't know. All I know is that they look like a mess, and I don't know what will happen next.
Father Richard Rohr talks about the cycle of order-disorder-reorder. E verything is tidy. Everything gets broken open. Everything gets re-formed. In some ways, this will be my sabbatical time, as my usual routines are taken away, and I find myself without the usual scaffolding for my days. What is my purpose and worth if I am not writing a sermon? Making a phone call? Offering a prayer? Who are we without our scaffolding, the things we have constructed around ourselves to create order, safety and meaning? This is where the theological purpose of sabbath reveals itself: so we might discover our blessedness apart from what we "do" or what we produce or what we consume.
It might feel like a mess if we stop neatly ordering our days around the usual things. We might feel adrift. (I'm certain that I will feel that way!) But if we can move through the disorder, we just might discover a new order, a deeper way, a divine core to our being.
As I prepare to enter my sabbatical time, I wish you all a messy field of possibility and joyful discovery. May this time be fruitful for all of us. Thanks be to God!