The following is an excerpt from the Dean's letter sent out on March 7, 2020. For the full text of the letter, and information about Saint Mark's response to the current viral outbreak, please visit the cathedral's Coronavirus outbreak information page.
Every Lent we retell the account of Jesus’ forty-day retreat in the wilderness as a time of temptation, but also as a time of prayerful discernment, for Jesus and for all who follow him. Jesus began his worldly ministry in earnest only after that time apart. With this in mind, I wonder if we might see this time as not only a challenge but also an opportunity—to see it as being afforded a time in which life is changed, and to ask ourselves, for what purpose?
Or, to extrapolate, what if we were to frame this time in which many of the daily practices in the busy-ness of life are reduced, or withdrawn, for a time—in this way, can we see it as sabbath time? What would you do differently if you saw this as sabbath? More rest, more recreation (re-creation, as God intended), more quality family time, more time to pray, more time to journal, and to do so with intention. What will you do?
With the prospect of fewer meetings, and with this image of sabbath in mind and on my heart, I am engaging my centering prayer practice with more intention, and I am going to re-read two books—Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s landmark book The Sabbath, and Walter Brueggemann’s wonderful book Sabbath As Resistance: Saying NO to a Culture of Now. I might encourage you to explore one or both, and perhaps later this month, if the health crisis persists, as I expect it will, we will make plans to host on-line book discussion groups using Brueggemann’s book. (I’d encourage reading this book regardless!). We can and will continue to form community in life-giving ways!
We press on, friends, trusting in the pervasive presence and love of God as the guiding force for us all. I am grateful to be on this journey with you all! I am,