Sabbath For The [Rest] Of Us

by MitchellRichards

“He must say farewell to manual work and learn to understand that the world has already been created and will survive without the help of man.  Six days a week we wrestle with the world, wringing profit from the earth; on Sabbath we especially care for the seed of eternity planted in the soul.  The world has our hands, but our soul belongs to Someone Else.  Six days a week we seek to dominate the world, on the seventh day we try to dominate the self.”  –Abraham Joshua Heschel in his book The Sabbath.

One of the most challenging things I come to in life is stopping. It is hard to stop the busy shuffle of life, work, work, work, constant motion, constant planning, and constant execution. We are creatures of toil and slaves to repetition.  We work too much, we live too little, and we somehow justify that this is all right.

God rested on the seventh day after creating the world and later, He pushed that rest onto His people by commanding it.  The Sabbath, as it is known, is a day of rest for all of humanity.  It is a day where rest and relaxation conquers work and cash.  A few months ago, I decided to take part in a Sabbath weekly, I designated a day where I would not work or o anything that seemed like work.  Typically, the Sabbath is celebrated on Saturdays, but since my schedule would not allow it, I switch it to Mondays.  My Sabbaths quickly became a harbor for my week, a day where I could rest and recharge and take time to do the things I want to do.  This may be sacrilegious or something, but I made up some rules for my personal Sabbaths:

If it feels like work, I do not do it.

If I am enjoying myself with smiling and laughter, I have found it.

If I find myself worrying or stressed I stop whatever it is that I am doing and wait until the next day.

I find myself saying “no” a lot.

I have found that food tastes better on Mondays, sleep feels more relaxing, my thoughts are more pure, and my relationships are my focus.  I found that at first, it was really hard for me to stop working on a day.  My brain and body had become so trained to do nothing but work that it felt so abnormal to not work.  But as the weeks went on I started to enjoy this day of rest.  I realized soon that it wasn’t about sleeping in and vegging out, but it was about connecting my body to something it needed.

“What was created on the seventh day? Tranquility, serenity, peace and repose.

–Rashi

I have too many friends that beat them self up because all they do it work, they have no time to rest and no time to simply be, as one of my pastors would say, a human being not a human doing. Is that where you are in your life right now? A human doing? Have you stretched yourself so far that rest is a strange feeling, or worse, a strange thought?  Is rest something that even exists for you?  When will the work end and when will creation start?  God Himself rested, why do you feel that you, His creation, don’t need to?

In my Sabbaths I began to notice that my brain actually has an off switch.  Some people I know “take work home with them” and they never have that off switch to flip.  Not being able to access your off switch will ruin your relationships and friendships because your body and mind are not matching with your soul and your desires.  If you are in work mode all of the time, thinking and worrying about work, you have no time for your kids, for your friends, your significant others, God, or for yourself.  You are constantly on, plotting ways to continue your job from home or from vacation.  Sabbath is not against work and making a living, Sabbath is against becoming a machine.

Sabbath has become a day of sacrifice for me, a day where I must force myself to not work, to not check things off of a to-do list.  I only participate in things that I love, things that bring joy to my soul and calmness to my body.  If I do not have an idea of something to write, I do not force myself to write on the Sabbath.  I do not go into work, and I do not think about Tuesday.  I only live in this moment.

I hope you can find rest in a Sabbath soon.  I ask you to set apart a day each week and do nothing.  I know that immediately your mind probably just told you that Sabbath is not possible, that taking a day off is not possible, but that is only the work switch in your mind telling you that.

Rest is possible

Sabbath is possible.

Rest is needed.

Sabbath is needed.

A great resource to better understanding and capturing Sabbath is the book “The Sabbath” by Abraham Joshua Heschel.  (Amazon link)

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