Thoughts on Sabbath…

On Ellis’ second birthday, we all got up at the same time and went downstairs.  I made Ellis an egg, and she ate strawberries after it; she loves strawberries.  We listened to music and danced.

Then, the three of us went upstairs and got ready for the day and Ellis jumped on the bed.  Again, we had music on and Ellis and I danced.  I pretended to fall on her while she was jumping, and we would both fall over and laugh.  The music played.  It was Counting Crows. We had the whole day before us: shopping and a birthday celebration and hope and time.

I remember thinking about transcendent moments and movies.  Transcendent moments in movies are pure and bright.  A woman and a man fall in love and there is only the unforeseen future.  All cares and worries fall away, all stresses and hurts and concerns, because that is how love works.  Or, that is how love works for a moment and movies grasp that: a song plays and the credits role and we wonder why our lives aren’t quite that bright.

Life is unlike a movie because the credits do not role.  There are stresses.  Most of us face some sort of financial stress, even if we are in vastly different financial situations, we know some worry with it.  We have concerns with relationships and we bring our work home and think and brood over it during the weekend; we are never more than a moment from email or voicemail or something to pull us back into the world of stress and anxiety and worry.  We can’t find our clean endings, like the movies.

This is why discipline is important.  In his book on Sabbath, Abraham Joshua Heschel proclaims that even thinking about work on the Sabbath is a break of sabbath, is a sin.  I remember reading that and thinking how I come from a slightly different tradition, and that I won’t be a slave to sabbath, but rather too often I fail to celebrate sabbath all together.

Yesterday, for Ellis’ second birthday, I decided to celebrate sabbath.  I told myself and my God that I would not think of work or the myriad stressors in life.  I wanted to capture the true idea of Sabbath, even for a moment.

True Sabbath is an embracing of the transcendent moments that God offers us.  It is a disciplined and stubborn refusal to let life’s concerns and frustrations and hurts cloud their way, force their way into my thoughts and emotions, and rather an embrace of the moment that God has given and the family he has given and the life he has given.

True Sabbath offers closure like a movie offers closure.  God created for six days and then on the seventh he rested.  There were no other concerns and worries that drove him to any sort of restless action.  He found rest.  True Sabbath offers this same stop and closure to us: it is the happily ever after because there is only this moment.  It is to be received with grace and thanksgiving, free of worry.

I did not capture Sabbath all day, yesterday.  My mind wandered to finances and anxieties and I found myself undisciplined at points.  But, for that moment while Ellis jumped on the bed and Counting Crows played on the computer and I pretended to fall over and we laughed, there was only Sabbath: only stop, only rest, only some unseen communion with each other and with God.

I hope to celebrate Sabbath more appropriately in the weeks to come, to hone the discipline of focusing only on the moment.  I think Ellis and Brooke deserve it, and God deserves it, and I deserve not to serve Sabbath, but to let it serve me to the very fullest: to stop and rest and be.  May we all find more Sabbath in our lives.

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