Setting Aside a Personal Sabbath

Anybody can observe the Sabbath, but making it holy surely takes the rest of the week.
--Alice Walker

IIt was all right for the Great Creator to rest on the seventh day, but many [people] I know assume they just can't take the time. After all, they're not creating the world six days a week, just carrying its weight on their shoulders.

The Greeks had a wonderful word for this attitude: hubris. Hubris is an "exaggerated sense of self-confidence" and it usually comes before a humbling. A heart attack is certainly very humbling, and it does not surprise me in the least that heart disease is now the leading killer of women.

"Some keep the Sabbath going to Church," Emily Dickinson confided, "I keep it, staying at Home." So do I. There are some Sundays, especially in winter or when it rains, that I don't even get out of my pajamas until noon. Long ago, I stopped feeling guilty about this because I've learned how to honor my Sabbath by keeping it holy and happy. Many people look upon the Sabbath as Sunday; others keep the Sabbath from Friday at sundown through Saturday. It doesn't matter what day of the week you set aside as your own personal Sabbath, it just matters that you keep one.

Here is a short guide to what you should not be doing on your Sabbath: strenuous household chores (preparing meals is permitted, but they should either be easy or festive, depending on your choice); catching up on work that you didn't complete last week or getting a head start on work you're supposed to start on Monday; shopping at large department stores that insert slick circulars in weekend papers.

This is what the Sabbath is for: reverence, rest, renewal, rejuvenation, reassuring rituals, recreation, rejoicing, revelation, remembering how much you have to be grateful for, and saying "thank you!" You can do this in a church, mosque, temple, or synagogue, on a walk, while antiquing, sitting in bed propped up on pillows reading something wonderful with a breakfast tray, working the crossword puzzle before a roaring fire, attending a marvelous art exhibition or movie matinee, or listening to opera in the kitchen as you sip sherry and prepare a fabulous feast. What matters is that you do something special that speaks to your soul and that you revel in whatever you do. Your activities on the Sabbath should uplift you and provide enough inspiration to sustain you during the week to come.

"Sunday is sort of like a piece of bright golden brocade lying in a pile of white muslin weekdays," Yoshiko Uchida wrote in A Jar of Dreams. If this is not what the Great Creator intended when [the Sabbath was created], then I have no idea what is Sacred.

-Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance - A Daybook of Comfort and Joy © 1995

I finally tilled the garden soil this week and have begun to lay out the pea patch. I have about 100 square feet under my stewardship, and spent the best part of a day on my knees shaking the dirt out of the grass and weeds. Somehow, it felt like praying - not asking for something, but offering up thanks for the opportunity to work the soil and get back more that what is put into it - I always feel that way when gardening, you know?

I also heard a Port Commissioner for the Port of Tacoma put forth an interesting idea: "Don't just prepare for the future, invent it." When we visualize where we want to be, and work toward that goal, we are creating the future that we want to be. And moment by moment, it begins to take shape and be just what we had in mind - sort of!

Like gardening, we till the soil, plant the seeds and tend it all until the fruits are borne, and that system generally works pretty well. Why shouldn't life be the same way?

On the other hand, John Lennon said that "life is what happens to you while you are making plans." Take your best shot, I say. In other words, bloom where you're planted.



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