Last Sunday, I chose to practice Sabbath—a tradition that was a strong factor in my growing up years, but that waned with my work as a nurse…patients need care every day of the week. Most of us know and understand the concept of a day of rest, but our frenetic lifestyles tend to get in the way.
Sabbath crisscrosses most cultural, spiritual, religious and secular societies, even pre-dating biblical times. The Babylonian Enuma Elish prescribed a day of repose. In the Genesis creation story, God rested after his six days of work and, I suppose it worked out well so that he added it to those tablets of stone he handed on to his people through Moses. Wicca, Islam. Buddhism, Cherokee teaching and others all caution humans to take a break, chill out, and rest.
Wisdom, it seems to me, embraces our need for refreshment, for replenishment of body, mind spirit and emotion, for regeneration and reflection.
For many of us, well, for me anyway, the need to be in control seems to take hold and it becomes oh-so-hard to let go of time, accept idleness and non-productivity and, perhaps, the feeling of uselessness. I suspect that there is a trust issue here. Can I really believe that God will take care of things in my absence? Can I believe that the work of creation on this particular day will go on without my amazing intervention?
So, what kind of things did I, Ms-Doing-Not-Being do?
• Meditation—a bit longer than my ordinary routine.
• Journaling. And in the process really waking up to what was happening around me. I wrote of all the wonderful sensory experiences that the pristine late-spring day offered—the finches song, the brilliant orange of the male oriole at our feeder, the spicy scent of new-born flowers and the basil in the vegetable garden. I noticed the play of light and shadow in the now-expansive boughs of the ash tree we planted almost twenty years ago and watched the hummingbirds fly back and forth sipping nectar from both flowers and feeders. I felt the gentle kiss of the breeze and delighted in my dogs’ warm bodies flanking me on either side. I listened to David busy chopping spices in the kitchen.
• Spa Stuff. I pampered myself with a Pomegranate/Cranberry exfoliating scrub courtesy of Burt’s Bees, did a manicure/pedicure and, well, thought about taking a nap. I thanked my body for its almost-seven decades of service and praised the many scars that it bears, a reminder of the life-threatening illness I have survived for now.
• Creativity. Maybe some consider engaging in the creative process to be work. For moi, I allowed the muse to come out and play, more by way of brainstorming than actualizing any project. Sabbath time allows ideas to gestate and gives clarity as to where to take them.
• And, yes, a final confession. I did laundry. So, it wasn’t a perfect Sabbath, but for this woman who tends towards OCD, that’s probably not a bad thing. Besides, we needed clean clothes!
That night I slept well, but will I be able to repeat the experience? My history tells me that this is not something that comes easily to me. I am aware that Sabbath doesn’t have to always be on Saturday or Sunday, or even occupy an entire twenty-four hours. How would life be different if, each day, I remember to tuck in an hour or even minutes for the divine repose, sit back and let go?