Celebrate the important work of a community helping people

By Ruth Ferris Anyone watching the political conventions knows that there is much anger in the U.S. on both the left and the right ends of the political spectrum. Whatever one's idea is about what needs to be done to make things better, it is clear that many people are working hard and not always seeing the benefits for their families that would make them feel more secure. Our young people are facing a world where they will be competing with the brightest and best from around the world. Building walls or closing our borders are not going to change that significantly. We are not alone in facing difficult things. When I was in eastern Europe last fall, I saw people who had left everything behind GÇô homes, relatives, jobs GÇô to flee from terrifying war zones. Many at Eatonville Family Agency (EFA) are doing what they can to get food, clothing, and resources to families and increasing numbers of elderly in need. In the face of all this need, I have chosen to focus on the need for those working hard to make their world a better place, to take time out to have a rest and to celebrate. Our backpack team that meets every week to put together backpacks filled with a weekend of food for over 80 children was given a celebration breakfast at the Eatonville Community Center after their last backpack day for this school year. Our EFA board took time out to have a party to celebrate the accomplishments of the past year: " Its fund-raising team raising its essential target of $30,000. " Its successful year with its new director, Alana Smith. " Its longtime board member recovering from time in the hospital. " Its diversity of gifts that each of its members faithfully shares to make EFA an effective and sustainable place. It is fitting that Smith, the director of Eatonville Family Agency/Eatonville Area Council, would be the contact person for the Town of Eatonville's Fourth of July celebration. In the spirit of celebration, we celebrate those who have spent time caring for others. It is not that the needs of the vulnerable have gotten fewer; in fact, they continue to grow. However, many modern spiritual thinkers and texts as ancient as Solomon emphasize the need to take time out from service to be restored. The more I reviewed the current writing about the importance of taking time from everyday concerns, or Sabbath, I realized I really needed a time to rest from anger and action and to find renewal myself. While the Christian and Jewish Sabbath is the one with which we are most familiar, the Sabbath as an idea transcends any one religion. All need to take time out to restore their spirits. Those who had taken time to study, to reflect, and to write about this gave a much-needed lift to my spirit. Wayne Muller, in the spiritual classic "How, Then, Shall We Live?", shows us how to create a special time of rest, delight, and renewal GÇô a refuge for our souls. We need not even schedule an entire day each week. Sabbath time can be an afternoon, an hour, a walk. With wonderful stories and poems, Muller teaches us how we can use time of sacred rest to refresh our bodies and minds, restore our creativity, and regain our birthright of inner happiness. In "Sabbath as Resistance," Walter Brueggemann speaks to a 24/7 society of consumption, a society in which we live to achieve, accomplish, perform and possess. We want more, own more, use more, eat more, and drink more. Keeping the Sabbath allows us to break this restless cycle and focus on what is truly important. Brueggemann offers a transformative vision of a more fulfilling and simpler life through Sabbath observance. In "The Sabbath World," Judith Shulevitz explores the Jewish and Christian day of rest, from its origins in the ancient world to its complicated observance in the modern one. Shulevitz uses the legends, history and philosophy that have grown up around Sabbath that has lessons for all of us, not just the religious. The shared day of non-work sustained past cultures, and connects us to the memory of our ancestors and to our better selves.
Ruth Ferris is a member of the Eatonville Family Agency board.


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