I wonder, is it possible for 21st century Bethesda folks to stop working/driving/doing/responding/tending and just be still for a while?
Winter is a time in nature where things slow way down. Bears just find a nice spot to curl up and hibernate. Rivers and streams freeze. Even the sun gets lazy and comes up late, and goes to bed early. Plants shut down and go dormant as the weather grows cold. Only humans continue their fevered pace of life.
In my mostly-rural home state of Nebraska, the seasons dictated the rhythm of the agricultural year: Spring and Fall were busy with planting and harvesting; provisions were piled up for the Winter. Cold weather and snows kept folks mostly indoors, with more time for rest, conversation, and quiet pastimes.
Scripture tells us that God ordained a Sabbath year not just for humans, but for the land – every seventh year the land should be allowed to lie fallow and rest. John’s Gospel goes on to say that “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Somehow, it seems, rest and quietness contribute to a full life as much as motion and busy-ness.
So what about Sabbath time for humans? What might happen if we let ourselves go fallow for a season? If we let the grain fall into the earth and die? If we let Winter do its work on us - if we walk slowly through the snowy woods, dark and deep, to hear what God might say to us in the stillness? Only you can find out. JBM