“It was as if a whole people were in love with the seventh day…”
These words, written by Abraham Heschel, stir a longing for rest in me. I long for sabbath or what is known as “shabbat” in Jewish tradition. One day where the to-do’s and shoulds and oughts of the world are placed on the shelf.
They are replaced with Rest.
What gives you rest? In her book, Sacred Rhythms, Ruth Haley Barton suggests that we must notice the things that either fill us up or leave us dry. Listen to your body and soul. She has encouraged me to look at what activities give me joy and peace. Looking beyond momentary gratification, what brings a deep-seated contentment? What brings me to a place of delight in God and His goodness? These are the things that must be done on the Sabbath.
Sometimes, it’s difficult for us to allow such a weekly retreat from life. Maybe we fear what others will think… “Ugh, you’re being SO legalistic!” or we fear of missing out… “But it’s the CHAMPIONSHIP GAME!!!” And then for others, we fear of what might happen if we take a break. We have a feeling that we are being irresponsible or that the tasks we should be doing are more important than taking time to delight in God. You know, because surely the world will fall apart if we don’t attend every family function and every soccer game. Guilty? I know I am. I mean, really, I think I’m guilty of all of those things at different times. It’s hard to live counter-culturally.
But I’m going to try. I’m going to rest from Saturday evening until Sunday evening each week. I’m going to take bubble baths and journal and take my son on nature walks. We’re going to delight in the goodness of God for a whole day! I won’t do housework or any other household duties. We’ll make a special meal and thank God for providing it. We won’t buy or sell anything as an act of defiance against the lies of consumerism.
You know what else we won’t do? Worry. That will probably be the most difficult one for me. But for one day, I am going to release my worries and cares to God. Now, I realize this is something that I could do every day but I’m going to start with one day per week. Although, I’m not just talking about normal worries, I’m also including planning or just thinking about the future. It will be a day to just be present in the now.
Doesn’t that sound fantastic?? I think it sounds like a dream. I hope we can make it a reality. I know it won’t be easy.
I am so desperate to replenish myself with those things that refresh my mind, body, and spirit. Barton suggests that we “be as intentional about protecting it as we can be, but do not become rigid or legalistic about it, which ruins the spirit of the day.” Again, this won’t be easy, but I will do my best. In my experience, I usually need to start-out really extreme with something and then scale back as needed. The hardest thing of this of course is just the logistics… Is it possible to have my Sabbath on Sunday? I serve on Sunday (ok, one Sunday per month) and people schedule bbq’s and stuff all the time on Sundays (ok, like that happened once a couple of weeks ago I think). Obviously, there will never be one perfect day. I guess that’s the point. We have to make the time. We have to fight for it. Sometimes, we’ll make exceptions for good reason but I think I’ll be bummed when I have to do that.
Sooo… those are my thoughts, I’m curious and eager to hear what any of you do for the Sabbath. Please share your practices and thoughts!