I’m sitting at the Oneota Community Co-op eating a delicious lunch from the hot bar. It’s pretty quiet, since the lunch hour has passed. Oddly enough, I see only one person I know on a first-name basis.
Our former pastor, Joan Mau, used to eat lunch here almost every day—sometimes with friends, but often alone. I will miss seeing her here.
This afternoon, her friends and family celebrated her life, mourned the loss of her, and listened to Bach (Pastor Mau loved Bach). I didn’t make it to the funeral. So I’m writing this post to process the sadness that has been lingering since I heard the news of her sudden death eleven days ago.
I didn’t know Pastor Mau very well. I joined the church just a couple of years before she retired. And we didn’t “hang out.” But she came to every party I ever invited her to (most recently Rebecka’s high school graduation open house), and we bonded over one specific topic: the Sabbath.
I rediscovered the importance of a Day of Rest when I started exploring simple living, and later, mental health. I started taking “digital Sabbaths” to unplug on Sundays. It was so liberating!
A couple of years ago, I did a talk on wellness for an adult forum at our church. I mentioned that the Seventh Day Adventists are very dedicated to observing the Sabbath and that this may contribute to their longevity.
Pastor Mau was so excited. She told me she was planning a two-part adult forum on the Sabbath, which made me very excited. Of course, I attended. She spoke of how difficult it was for her not to work on the Sabbath. “Sometimes I have to sit on my hands,” she said, “so that I don’t work.” (This made me realize she was a lot more hard core about the Sabbath than I am. Something to aspire to!)
She recommended the book The Sabbath by Abramam Joshua Heschel. I bought it, and it’s still sitting on my “to read” bookshelf. I will read it this summer—for Pastor Mau (and for me).
This busy spring, I have not afforded myself a full day of rest. And I can feel the adverse impact on my overall health. God and Pastor Mau were on to something. We need rest. We need time to reflect and connect. And we need to unplug from the ongoing stream of information that rudely disrupts our lives on an ongoing basis.
Pastor Mau, please visit often in spirit to remind me to honor the Sabbath. Even if it means I have to sit on my hands.
Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.