When taking a moment to muse on how slowed down the world has become in response to COVID-19, with traffic eerily scarce and a new silence permeating a once-perpetual noise, the title of this book popped into my head as an alternate nickname for the coronavirus: “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry.” It’s title penned by a pastor-author named John Mark Comer, who’s something of a whiz when it comes to contemporary applications of the Bible to one’s life, and he’s gone down a real deep rabbit hole in response to practicing the sabbath as an expression of Christian spirituality. With everyone on a kind of forced sabbatical, there’s something to glean from all this so that the interruption of once-predicable schedules doesn’t send our collective anxiety into overload. A virus is ruthless in that it knows no prejudice for whom to pursue and attack – all ages, all races, all people. And if every person on earth has the same enemy – then what kind of universals can be found in response to this adversary of life itself?
The ruthless elimination of hurry – have we not slowed down to a pace rarely even experienced on an actual day off? I tell myself and others often that “rest is a discipline” and I’m wary when I see that being made to slow down and relax is actually borderline torture for some people. There are even secular habits (with religious roots) that I picked up living in Europe over the years: taking the entire month of August off, having really long lunches, knowing there’s a word just for an afternoon nap. Those practices and habits are undeniably lovely and calm-inducing, and when they’re woven into the culture everyone is much more pleasant to each other overall. Is that not a side effect you are seeing – nevermind the hysteria over toilet paper – but do you not see random and profound acts of kindness towards one another at this time? Even the simple act of offering an extra hand wipe to a stranger on an airplane – that simple action now reaches a profundity unbeknownst before.
Even the Seventh-Day Adventists that I went to private school with for 8 years – that’s a story for a different day but out of all of their countercultural practices their observation of the sabbath was something to behold. It meant spending the entire day together as a family, often going canoeing and having a picnic with gorgeous lunches and listening to classical records. It was a deep and true experience of wholesomeness that left an impression and makes sense for why the families continue to be so tight knit to this day, or if they struggle in their faith they continue to keep the sabbath holy because it’s so second nature to their expression of humanity. What if the experience of the sabbath became second nature to your humanity?
So! To encourage upkeep of a positive attitude in the midst of this crisis, take notice of that side effect of being slowed down and instead of fighting it, take a moment to see how to create a new sabbath out of the delay to routine life.
- If every person on earth has the same enemy – then what kind of universals can be found in response to this shared adversary to life?
- Are you witnessing random and profound acts of kindness towards one another at this time?
- What if the experience of the sabbath became second nature to your humanity?
Dear Holy Spirit and the Blessed Mother, I ask that you receive me as your own and keep, guide and protect my family, my loved ones, and the world. May our eyes be opened to how you view the story of our humanity and provide clarity in the midst of the cloud of news. Lead us to the ways in which we can find rest and relief in you, and let calm be the contagion that sweeps the world through your love.
Further Reading Resource
John Mark Comer – “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry: How to Stay Emotionally Healthy and Spiritually Alive in the Chaos of the Modern World.”