The concept of sabbath find its roots in the Hebrew story of creation. God made the world and everything in it, and then on the seventh day, rested. It was a cessation of activity, but also time to take stock of what had been done and to revel in in the beauty of land, air, sea and creatures of all shapes and kinds.
I have not always been good at imitating this day of rest. In part, I suppose that is because I spend Sundays leading worship and sometimes youth group or other programs, too. The bigger reason, however, is that I have simply not cultivated the practice of ceasing activity.
It is not easy to rest these days. Rest has, in fact, become counter-cultural. Stores are open 24 hours and technology makes us available night and day. When we ask each other “How are you?” we expect the answer to be, “Busy”. Being busy means we are important, successful, or at least not lazy.
It has taken me several weeks to really get into the sabbath groove. It occurred to me as I was grocery shopping–a normal Monday ritual. As I walked isle after isle at the grocery store, I noticed it was taking much longer than usual. I was reading more labels. I took ages selecting produce. When my cart was full I took them time to stop and rearrange everything so it would fit without squishing the bread. I was not in a rush and that felt really good.
Yesterday Emily helped me pack a picnic and all six of us headed off to the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington. We went to the Observatory, and made our way to the lilac dell, where the very first purple and white flowers are beginning to bloom.
Trees of all kinds were covered in deep pink blossoms and the first tiny green leaves. The path and grassy areas were full of people just like us, soaking up the sun and enjoying the birds. We found a shady spot with dry grass and stretched out our blanket for lunch. Andrew played his violin, the kids played cards, I read my book, Pat put his hat over his eyes and dozed off.
It was a sabbath moment and it was beautiful.
I am a little surprised that I am able to rest like this. Like so many people I know, I have always been driven, always busy, always needing to organize, achieve, fix, help, do. I didn’t think I was actually capable of actually slowing down in both my body and in my spirit. Just so you know, it feels deeply satisfying. I highly recommend it.