The Art of Sabbath: Nothing New


Nothing New Under the Sun

“Sabbath challenges the theology of progress by reminding us that we are already and always on sacred ground.” Sabbath (p.79)

In my many years of Sunday morning Church, the concept of Sabbath, “rest in the arms of the divine,” was swallowed up in the message of spiritual progress.

When we first attended a church that had been around for 175 years, I was overwhelmed by the unexpected relief that this place existed long before anyone I knew was born. The churches I had attended up until that time were new, they were modern, and of course, I attended because I thought they were  better-more real, more casual, more down-to-earth, more relevant.

Until I melted in the old wooden pews and soaked up the ancient liturgy, this experience of God’s presence holding me in the greater context of humanity had been lost in a version of faith where Jesus had passed me a relay baton and it was my job to keep on running until I got the job done.

My theology was focused on production-it was in my hands to change the world, to be Jesus to everyone I came into contact with, to make things better and to move things forward. This momentum and energy was conjured from my own sense of what I should be doing, a lot of shame, plenty of guilt and it continued receiving it’s fuel from a constant sense of never being good enough.

“There is no time to rest, because we are on a very important mission, to boldly go where no species has gone before. We never rest on our laurels, we never rest at all. Every moment is a necessary investment in the divinely ordained and completely unquestioned goal of progress.” Sabbath (p.78)

It always has been and it always will be in our nature to think that we are going to make the world better-that we will be The Ones. While there is a beautiful truth hidden inside of that theology, if we experience that belief out of context, we are not allowed to rest until our perception of the job is done.

“What if we are simply living and growing within and ever-depening cycle of rhythms, perhaps getting wiser, perhaps learning to be kind, and hopefully passing whatever we have learned to our children? What if our life, rough-hewn from the stuff of creation, orbits around a God who never ceases to create new beginnings? What if our life is simply a time when we are blessed with both sadness and joy, health and disease, courage and fear-and all the while we work, pray, and love, knowing that the promised land we seek is already present in the very gift of life itself, the inestimable privilege of a human birth?” Sabbath (p.79)

My Sabbath experiment has exposed and challenged my idea of what is important. I have some very real illusions of what is worthy of my time and what is not. I confuse doing something important with being important.

I must be cautious in how I define important things and in the power I give to those things to tell me who I am. When I take a seat at my equal place at the table of life with the rest of humanity, I realize I don’t even know what important means.

I have sweat blood trying to come up with the right words I could say to change someone’s life for the better. What I thought was better was not.

I gave someone a head of fresh cabbage many years ago and recently discovered it became a symbol of kindness that she had never known.

Seriously! What do I know?

Humility is a strange and wonderful land to explore. When I am spinning the top of my own world,  I cannot stop or I cease to be worthy because my identity rests in my own production.

When humility invites me to my small place in the eternal story of mankind, I realize it is okay to take a break every week or so, to melt into those big hands that hold the whole wide world.



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