Our Bloom Book Club is getting ready to discuss Sabbath: Restoring the Sacred Rhythm of Rest by Wayne Muller next week. I checked it out of the local library, but someone else (maybe another Local “Bloom”er ?) has it reserved so I can’t renew it so I wanted to write down a few things so I won’t forget. So I thought maybe I would share them here and maybe peak someone else’s interest in the Sabbath. This is just random stuff…
God lays forth in the Ten Commandments: Remember the Sabbath. “Remember that everything you have received is a blessing. Remember to delight in your life, in the fruits of your labor. Remember to stop and offer thanks for the wonder of it.’ Remember, as if we would forget. Indeed, the assumption is that we will forget. And history has prove that, given enough time, we will. ‘Remember the Sabbath’ is not simply a life-style suggestion. It is a spiritual precept in most of the world’s spiritual traditions – ethical precepts that include prohibitions against killing, stealing and lying” (p. 6-7).
“So let us remember the Sabbath. Let us breathe deeply in the rhythms of life, of the earth, of action and rest. Traditionally, Sabbath is honored by lighting candles, gathering in worship and prayer, blessing children, singing songs, keeping silence, walking, reading scripture, making love, sharing a meal. Just as we must wait until the darkness falls before we can see the stars, so does the Sabbath quietly wait for us. As darkness falls, as the light of the world fades and disappears, we light the inner lights of home and refuge. Our steps take us home, and the light draws us in” (p. 11).
We need to have a Sabbath rest because it is in the rhythm of creation. “The fruit contains the seed, and the seed contains the fruit. What we harvest in this seasons provides the seed for the next season. In Sabbath time we taste the fruit of our labor, and prepare the seeds for the week to come. If we are too busy, if we do not rest, we miss this rhythm. One day we look up and it is winter, and where are the fall days, brisk and clear, leaves ablaze?” (p. 67).
“Just to be is a blessing. Just to live is holy.” – Rabbi Abraham Heschel
The Hebrews had a strict set of rules to abide by in the Old Testament about what they could and could not do on the Sabbath. Working in the fields was definitely out. Every seventh year they would celebrate the Sabbath year. During this year, nothing was planted in the fields. They would only harvest what would grow on its own. “This served as a dramatic reminder that it was not their work alone, but God and the earth who fed them…The Sabbath teaching was clear: Nothing really belongs to us. It is all – lands, wealth, loved ones, life itself – on loan from God” (p. 206).
From Ecclesiastes: “What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; and there is nothing new under the sun.”
Muller gives many different ways in which people might observe Sabbath in their lives. These are a few that I found beneficial to myself:
- Light a Sabbath Candle
- Chose a heavily used device or appliance (computer, TV, washer, phone, etc.) and let it rest for a Sabbath period.
- Prepare a Sabbath meal
- “Bless your children, your lover, your friend, by placing your hand on their head, and offering a prayer for their healing, their well-being, their happiness.” Or secretly bless strangers on the street.
- Observe a period of silence so that you may hear.
- Take a Sabbath walk – quietly, slowly and with no purpose, other than “to let your soul catch up with you.”
- Spend time in nature.
- Play: “When we engage in ‘purposeless’ enjoyment of one another, we harvest some of the sweetest fruits of life.”