Rest and Rhythm
17th September 2020

In 2019 SAW released a publication. The publication was the outcome of many months of self reflection and careful consideration, within it’s pages we sought to explore and explain what SAW is, what it has been, and what it aims to be as an organisation. There are several essays within it that explore different aspects of our thinking and practise- here is one of them.

“In our own contemporary context of the rat race of anxiety, the celebration of Sabbath [day or period of rest] is an act of both resistance and alternative. It is resistance because it is a visible insistence that our lives are not defined by the production and consumption of commodity goods.”

[Walter Brueggemann, Sabbath as Resistance]

The benefits of 21st century lifestyles haven’t been the utopian dream of the 1960’s science fiction future. Our day to day lives may be transformed by technology, health care, science and education, but we are living in a time of crisis for the mental health and wellbeing of people. There is also a growing rise in suicide amongst young men, and an increased awareness of the immense stress our modern lives place on children and young people. Loneliness and isolation are chronic conditions in our super- connected on line society. Despite all our so called ‘human progress’, the gap between rich and poor, is as deep and wide as it has ever been.

Walter Brueggemann in his book ‘Sabbath as Resistance’ explores the ancient command of Sabbath rest, in the context of the “rat race of anxiety” that is our modern life. He encourages resistance against the “visible insistence that our lives are defined by the production and consumption of commodity goods.” 

At SAW we want this ancient wisdom of rest to punctuate the rhythm of our work, so we do not seek to produce a never-ending conveyor belt of more exhibitions, more events and activities, more publications – because ‘more’ is not always ‘better’. Instead our yearly pattern will include times when our gallery is closed, time when our team read, reflect and study, time when we resist the endless drive to produce more. Quality not quantity will be our driver, and so we will rest, resist and offer an alternative, built on the awareness and practice that we are on the receiving ends of the gifts of God.

Rhythm and Prayer

Prayer in its simplest form is our heart’s cry to God. 

It doesn’t have to be words, but it can be.

It can be erudite hyperbolas, or a faltering sentence. 

It can be silence in the stillness, and it can be tears, anger and rage. 

It can be the exuberance of dance and deep belly laughter of fun. 

It can be uncontrollable sobbing as grief and pain engulf us and the mere tiniest spark of hope.

It is honest and real and alive and vital.

At SAW prayer is as essential as our breathing, and the foundation on which we stand. It is our daily reminder that we trust in the unfailing presence of God. We draw both on established prayer traditions and create new ones to punctuate our work day, knowing God is never constrained by formulaic times of prayer, but instead we expect to again and again see God bursting forth into every part of our existence.

God of compassion and care, wholeness and healing, forgiveness and love, transformation and restoration, hope and love.
We pray for a world that has been fragmented and fractured by greed, selfishness, hatred and violence.
We see systems and structures that oppress and enslave, held in place by the fear that nothing can change.
We pray for a fresh infusion of your Spirit’s power, that we might work with you for the transformation and reconciliation of every sector of our society.
May your love continually challenge inspire and lead us to work for justice, unity, equality, inclusion, acceptance and peace for all people. 

A prayer adapted from the Methodist Church in Turks and Caicos. The Methodist Church Prayer handbook 2018-19

Alison Wilkinson

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