“Life is what happens when you’re making other plans,” is an idea made famous by John Lennon. Others have said “God is in the interruptions.” Donna Schaper couldn’t agree more: “My husband and I did a life review a while back. We discovered that most of the good things that had happened to us were entirely unplanned, while almost all of our best-laid plans never happened at all.”
For Schaper, the disruptions and interruptions that happen in life are sacred windows of opportunity. In more traditional times, we had sacraments, rites that helped us mark as sacred the most important transitions or “interruptions” in life – planned or otherwise. We knew how to bury our dead. We knew how to get married. We knew how to baptize or name our baby. We had a set of rules and rituals that made sense. Today, the traditional ways mostly no longer fit with what we believe or how we live. The sacraments that used to guide us and ground us have themselves become “interrupted.”
In The Sacrament of Interruption, Schaper uses the seven sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church – baptism, confirmation, marriage, penance, communion, ordination, and last rites – as a way to frame and create within us a “sacramental sensibility,” a window which, if we open it, can allow the wind of a “holier spirit” to refresh and renew our lives.
If a sacrament is best defined as “a visible sign of an invisible grace,” then this grace-filled book must surely be a sacrament of sorts, because it has the power to open us to the sacred in every moment of our lives.
Rev. Dr. Donna Schaper is senior minister of Judson Memorial Church in Greenwich Village, New York City. She is a passionate gardener who loves to build soil, grows a good tomato, and enjoys hiking, grandchildren, and ministry. She has written more than 30 books, including her most recent title, Prayers for People Who Think They Can’t Pray.