Ancient Wisdom


Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath.”~ Mark 2:27

Red Z333 appears to be taking a year off from mothering. At more than 70 years old, that may sound like an obviously good idea, but when you are a Laysan Albatross, who has laid at least 30 eggs in your lifetime, raising a chick nearly every year since 2006, it might be called wisdom. In fact, this bird, the oldest known wild bird in the world, is named Wisdom. She has been seen back on the Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge since this winter, but so far there is no sign of her mate. Not to worry, it is normal for this species to take a year off from parenting between chicks. There is something about the general pace of living that albatrosses exhibit that speaks of the wisdom of rest.

Albatrosses don’t hurry to do anything. When they fly, they barely move. They are able to do so by exploiting aerodynamics. Consider the wings of gliders. Without power, they need to have as little drag as possible. This is accomplished by having a high aspect ratio, that is, long, skinny wings. This maximizes lift and minimizes drag. Albatrosses may have trouble getting into the air since those skinny wings are not great for thrust, but once they find even a small bit of wind, they can ride it seemingly forever. At just the right height over the water, there is enough air movement to support these large birds so well that they are capable of sleeping while flying.

The way we have structured our society with an emphasis on mass production with immediate payoff, we have not only degraded the value of rest, we have relegated it to scheduled times. If the only rest that you find is on weekends and vacations, you might find it hard to come by. If you have no practice of rest, you might not now how to find it when the time arrives. The concept of Sabbath is more about knowing a balance than it is about an imposed cycle. Sabbath in scripture is not only about the seven-day cycle, it is expanded out to seven-year and seven-times-seven-year cycles. Perhaps the time has come for us to think about seven-hour, seven-minute, even seven-second cycles as well. Jesus made the point clear that it is not about the rules, but the practice. So, maybe we need to focus on intention and trust. If we don’t trust God to provide, we work ourselves to exhaustion, but if we trust, we can rest whenever we need it, even in the midst of busy times.

Prayer: Ancient One, instill in us the wisdom to rest on the wing. Amen.

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