The word “Sabbath” translates as “rest,” and is universally honored in traditions all over the planet in various ways. Typically, the Sabbaths denotes not just a turning away from ordinary daily activities such as commerce, work, and errands, but a turning toward a deeper reality, something that stretches out beyond time and time’s demands. We’re not talking about a day off, a day to kick back and grab a movie and a beer (and there’s good reason for those kind of days, too). Rather, the Sabbath can be viewed as a human necessity—the regular and periodic space where we acknowledge there is more going on than our contemporary view would suggest, and we honor this larger view by sinking into being. Certainly meditation time offers a respite of this sort—but sometimes more is needed.
Yesterday was Sunday, a day often considered by some to offer the space of a Sabbath. And while I was not working (which is so easy to do in this age of technological access), I was still fully engaged with the have-to’s of the season: Late summer gardening, food to be prepared for a busy week, and the litany of shopping, laundry, and other household chores. In truth, I love these tasks. My mother taught me that caring for home is honorable work, and I’ve always been grateful for that perspective. And I was present to each of them; there was mindfulness throughout the day. But there was something niggling at me as I performed my duties: The feeling of wanting to put everything DOWN. To. Just. Stop. Moving. And not just the movement in the body—but the movement in the heart and mind as well. I could feel the yearning for it like the thirst that wants water. And I also felt the perpetuating impulse to keep going, as if stopping would mean I wouldn’t get the wood in before the first snowstorm or the larder would be bare if I didn’t harvest by nightfall. But I am far removed from the pressures of the open prairie, and there was nothing climactically pressing. No. Instead, I was experiencing the push of more and faster—as if there was some end that would deliver me into a blessedness that I longed for, and knew was actually as close to me as my next breath.
So today—Monday—I offered myself the long drink, the stopping, the Sabbath. It still didn’t happen until the end of the day, so maybe it can’t even be considered to be a whole Sabbath. But it’s what I can give, now, to myself, to slake the thirst. And as I go forth in the world I can remember, more vividly, that I know what I need—and intend to listen more closely and more responsively next time… because with any luck, there will be a next time.