“Sabbath is more than the absence of work; it is a day when we partake of the wisdom, peace and delightthat grow only in the soil of time—time consecrated specifically for play, refreshment and renewal. Many of us, in our desperate drive to be successful and care for our many responsibilities, feel terrible guilt when we take time to rest. But the Sabbath has proven its wisdom over the ages. The Sabbath gives us the permission we need to stop, to restore our souls. “- Wayne Muller
In the shared Judeo-Christian tradition the commandment to “keep holy the Sabbath” can sometimes feel just like that: a commandment, an obligation that most of us feel woefully inept to fulfill in this day and age. How do I keep holy an entire day? How do I take a 24hr period for rest, prayer, refraining from work, and still do the laundry, buy the groceries, and get my kids to soccer practice? It can feel so unrealistic that we forget about it completely; ignore it as a practice for different people in a different world.
What if, however, it is less of a commandment than a reminder of our basic human need for “play, refreshment, and renewal”? What if it is an invitation not to be held simply on one entire day weekly, but rather a concept to be woven intricately and continuously into the fabric of our lives? What would it look like to be a restful people? A Sabbath people?
It might look like turning our phones and Internet connections off for a couple of hours every evening, giving us the time and space to be present to our families or friends without interruption. It could look like making time to take a bubble bath or read a nourishing book. Sabbath might include a cup of tea and time for self-reflection, a nap, yoga, or a daily devotional, depending on what our unique soul needs for nourishment and rejuvenation.
The battle is combating the guilt that arises when we allow ourselves to settle into being rather than doing. For so many of us, our worth seems intrinsically linked to a sense of productivity and action in the world. The challenge is remembering that our worth comes not necessarily from who we are, or what we do, but rather from that we are that we exist as unique, individual human souls. Our dignity is intrinsic to what it means to be human.
Sabbath invites us to allow that human dignity merely to be, to show up, to exist. By being present to ourselves, others, the world and even God, we have taken a pause from the automatic cycles of our responsibility in order to breathe and move into the next moment with greater attention and intention.
Sabbath helps us to create the space to choose how and who we want to be going forward. It is a gift that we each deserve. Keep holy the Sabbath indeed.