I’ve been thinking about what it means to keep sabbath for a little over a year since I heard Teri Gross interview Judith Shulevitz who wrote “The Sabbath World.” The book is sitting on my shelf (both literally and virtually through Goodreads) waiting to be read. I wrote the slightly edited article below for the newsletter.
And with this post, I relieve my guilt over not posting at all. I’ll follow up on the Lenten discipline later … no really, I will.
“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass on a summer day listening to the murmur of water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is hardly a waste of time.” — Sir John Lubbock
There were eight of us who went to Shabbat services at a large but fairly close temple as one part of confirmation classes. Our docent explained to us that “Shabbat” is the same as “Sabbath” in English. And the Sabbath is the day to rest, the day to catch your breath. The Rabbi and Cantor also spoke about catching your breath and receiving the breath of God.
Unlike the 24 hour clock that starts the day at midnight (00:00) and ends at 23:59, their days begin and end at sundown. So the sundown of Friday begins the Sabbath that ends with the sundown of Saturday. Saturday is the seventh day of the week. And so, Saturday is the Sabbath. It is the time to gather together and remember that it is God who created us and breathed life into us. A time to be reminded of who we are: God’s people.
I’ve been thinking about “catching your breath” as keeping the Sabbath on and off since then.To observe the Sabbath and keep it holy means to slow down and regain your breath, to allow God’s spirit to breathe into you and restore the calm that comes from being centered with God. In a sense, keeping the sabbath is receiving again the breath of God that breathed life into us to create us. So sabbath keeping is a re-creation, a renewal, of the image of God within us.
The busier our lives become, the more intentional we must be to keep the Sabbath, “to catch our breath,” to renew the image of God and remember that we are God’s people.