Finding rest

As the blades of the mower crept around the fence, I saw my magnolia bush in the path of destruction. Quickly I clipped a note to their leaves with a Sharpie pen: “do not cut”. They needed a sign.
A few years ago, I needed a sign too.  A sign that said, “stop – do not work today”.  I was good at taking time off intermittently between  seven days of work. Libraries, museums, restaurants even the gym were my distractions, but there were few long days of time off.  I took vacations now and then, but I often had to have recovery days from the vacation.
And then some close friends began talking to us about Sabbath.  Not a kind of Sabbath that one proposes or chooses, but the actual Sabbath in Scripture.  The day of rest from Friday at sundown to Saturday at sundown. People have strong opinions about when and how to celebrate Sabbath, but for me, I was concerned about the commands to celebrate it starting on Fridays, and  I had to contend with this.  Mostly I was drawn to it. Drawn to the words from Scripture about Sabbath. Drawn to what it meant to rest for a whole 24 hours. And I was driven by the words of God to a command in the top 5, and as a family, we decided to commemorate it as best we could after ready Judith Shulevitz’s book, The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time:
For one day a week, let the world be as it is, and you be in it, and you’re not trying to dominate it.
But as our teenager grumbled, we did too. The few parameters we set felt restrictive at first, but with the help of our friends, we were able to push back on any type of pressure or hurriedness. And that felt different and new and good after I read a quote from Wayne Muller in his book, Sabbath,
If we refuse rest until we are finished, we will never rest until we die. Sabbath dissolved the artificial urgency of our days, because it liberates us from the need to be finished.
And in a world that is not supportive of rest, we found ourselves more productive during the week, and anticipating the rhythm of rest soon to come. Not like a vacation, but rather as an anticipation of something good about to happen.
Exodus 23:12 speaks of Sabbath as “refreshing”. That word in Hebrew originate from the word “nephesh” which means to be breathed upon as if by a current of air. Almost 6 years later, I still anticipate Sabbath and its ability to offer a slower pace and a breath of fresh air.

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