Involuntary Sabbath

A reflection on “Rest for the Land”, #Live Lent: Care for God’s Creation,
Week 3: Weekend.

Those who have been following this year’s Live Lent, or the Lent course on Creation based on Ruth Valerio’s book, have been spending this week reflecting on the creation of land and plant life. Today’s reading was about “a sabbath of complete rest for the land, a sabbath for the Lord.” As explained in Leviticus 25:1-5, the sabbath, or seventh year, is a year where nothing is planted, to give the soil a chance to recover, free from the demands of human greed.

The authors comment that “buying and consuning” leads to distorted values of ourselves and of other people. Since the booklet was written, this and many nations have moved into an enforced “sabbath”, with restrictions on social contact to reduce the spread of the Covid-19 virus. We are asked not to travel to work, use public transport, or even meet in groups, unless it is absolutely necessary.

In some places, this has already given the earth a chance to recover from the polluting effects of industry. In Wuhan, the birds are singing as they have not sung for years.

Here is England, the restrictions are too new, and telling us not to use public transport may be having the opposite effect of encouraging more people to drive to work and on other essential journeys. Also, more heavy lorries crowd the roads on the way to fill the supermarket shelves laid bare by marauding panic buyers. I hope this will change, as the panic subsides.

As we come to terms with the realization that our lives will be very different, not just for a few days but for months or even years, may we also learn to value the benefits of this involuntary sabbath.

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