In the 1990 movie, Joe vs. the Volcano, Joe Black was trapped in a sickeningly mundane life…a brutal, fluorescent soaked, 9-5 job, no passions, and a bad case of hypochondria. A diagnosis of an incurable “brain cloud” sends Joe on a trip to a far away island to fight a volcano and save the island people, but not before dramatically quitting his job, indulging in a massive shopping spree, and taking a chance on embracing love.
As I sit on the plane to Hawaii, with 3 months of Sabbatical before me, I can assure you that I don’t intend to fight the now erupting Kilauea Volcano. But the kitschy movie did bring to mind some of my Sabbatical themes that will be part of my time away from work this summer.
In her book, “Keeping the Sabbath Wholly”, author Marva Dawn sets forth a structure for Sabbath that I hope to follow this summer. Cease (work, worry, anxiety, control); Rest (spiritually, mentally, physically, intellectually); Embrace (the goodness of life, giving instead of receiving, time); and Feast (on food, relationships, the grace and goodness of God).
While I begin my Sabbatical in a less dramatic fashion than Joe Black, I like being able to spot these four aspects of Sabbath in his story. I’m sure I too was fully under the influence of a “brain cloud” these last few months of work. It was definitely time to cease and rest in a deeply spiritual and physical way. I won’t embrace life by going on a giant spending spree in lavish boutiques, but I will spend a great deal of time embracing what is good in this world, especially as I travel around one of the most beautiful places on earth with my parents and then alone, feasting on so many good gifts.
Spoiler alert: In the end, Joe isn’t swallowed by the volcano, though he threw himself into the fiery lava. His “incurable brain cloud” is lifted and he lives happily ever after. But only after he makes space in his life to embrace and feast on what is truly important. How often do we allow ourselves to get to the volcano’s edge before realizing what we should have been embracing all along? How often do we risk losing everything before we are able to truly feast on the gifts we’ve been given?
In the words of the Sabbatical guru, Jimmy Buffet, “I don’t know where I’m a gonna go when the volcano blows.” It’s true for us in a very real sense this weekend on the Big Island of Hawaii. But you better believe we are going to embrace and feast our way through as much of it as possible. In all of that, is a great lesson for how to live our days on the main land too. What will you embrace today?
(PS – I promise not to fight a volcano.)
View of Kilauea’s eruption from the plane today. If we weren’t looking for it, we would have missed it. Just know the whole entire island isn’t drowning in lava, no mater what the nightly news shows you…but one corner is most certainly having a very difficult time. If you’re worrying about us, please shift your energy to concern for the folks in and along the Eastern Rift Zone and Lower Puna region who are losing their homes and are out of work and school for the forseeable future. If you want to help, you can donate to the Hawaii Food Basket, http://www.hawaiifoodbasket.org. They are providing a great deal of food and supplies to displaced people in the region that is most affected.