Saturday, January 31, 2009

Gibraltar and the Sabbath

About 13 months ago I was sitting in a rickety old train traveling slowly through southern Spain. Andrew Crosson and I were making our pilgrimage across Spain together, and one of the last stops was Gibraltar. We were both excited and intrigued to see what this giant rock would look like in person. Already we'd made stops in Madrid and Sevilla, with incredible results. I was clearly getting the picture that Spain was an incredibly beautiful country with so much history and culture.

Andrew and I were on our way next to Gibraltar, and we were both excited and a little bit tired. By this point we were already 13 days into our travel break (the break at the end of our semester studying abroad in London), and it was getting tiring lugging around a giant pack with that many days worth of provisions. So with a little bit of fatigue and a steady reserve of untapped energy we got on our train to head to Gibraltar.

It was one of those journeys that just sucks the life out of you. The train stopped so many times I began to wonder if it would have been quicker to rent a moped...It also had this weird vibe the whole time. There were literally only a few other people in the train with us, and as we followed the tracks south and the sun set to the west, there was this eerie feeling you get when you're traveling to an unfamiliar place and you're not quite sure if you're going the right direction...

Well we finally got there, and after a quick stay in the hostel that night, we headed out the next morning to see Gibraltar. And what a disappointment it was. I mean it was just a huge let down. Yeah there was a big rock and lots of ocean surrounding the whole peninsula, but the streets were dirty and cramped and the place had an ultra-touristy feel to it. Both Andrew and I left Gibraltar more than a little bummed as we headed to our final destination in Spain.

After 13 months, though, I've realized that it wasn't really Gibraltar that was the let down. It was how we got there. The long, tiring train ride eeked out any of that untapped energy we had in our reserves and left us totally deflated. By the time we even got to Gibraltar our excitement level was so low that it would have taken one of the 7 wonders of the world to shake us out of our stupor. I guess that's just how traveling is. Sometimes when you pack too much in, the journey just gets long and hard and frustrating, and the destination loses its appeal.

You're probably already following where I am going with this. It's kind of the same reason God commanded us to observe the Sabbath and to guard it fiercely. We are creatures designed to work, but in order to do our work well we have to have periods of rest and rejuvenation. If we don't take the time to rest and get recharged, the journey starts feeling like a slug through the mud. Everything, even the fun moments of life, lose their luster when you're so tired and worn down that you can't enjoy them.

I'm starting to see just how much of a difference observing the Sabbath can have in my life. It's amazing. And I want to highly recommend that you try it as well. It just might make the journey that much better.