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“The Practice of Saying No”

Have you ever read an essay at just the right time? This morning I read “The Practice of Saying No” in An Alter in the World: A Geography of Faith by Barbara Brown Taylor, which was recommended to me by a woman we met in St. Maarten this past March. Here are some excerpts:

“Where there is money to be made, there is no rest for the land, nor for those who live on it. In the rural county where I live, developers bulldoze the laurels by the river where the raccoons taught their babies how to fish. An entire pine forest comes down to produce the paper for one mail-order catalogue. People who have already run out of closet space work overtime to pay the interest on their average $9,000 credit card debts, while economic predators send teenagers applications for their own preapproved cards in the mail. No resistance to such ravenousness will come from those who are heavily invested in its revenue. The resistance will have to come from elsewhere, from those who live by a different rhythm because they worship a different God.

“In the eyes of the world, there is no payoff for sitting on the porch…. In the eyes of the true God, the porch is imperative — not every now and then but on a regular basis.”

“The ancient wisdom of the Sabbath commandment — and of the Christian gospel as well — is that there is no saying yes to God without saying no to God’s rivals.”

“‘God is not found in the soul by adding anything but by subtracting,'” says Meister Eckhart.

As “the great Swiss theologean Karl Barth once wrote, ‘A being is free only when it can determine and limit its activity.'”

When I was a workaholic college professor, living in the Washington suburbs, I started observing Shabbat every Saturday, and it changed my life. I gave that up on the campaign trail.

Time to reconnect by relearning how to disconnect.

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