I have been pondering the notion of Sabbath for some time. Oh, not that I don’t understand it, but it’s like a jello mold … if you try to pick up the jello from the plate with your hands, what happens? It’s all jiggly and sluices through your fingers. Sabbath can be like that.
Dr. Wilson (click the link just under the picture there) nailed it.
Here’s my thing with ‘creep’, that insidious drain of life that distracts us from connecting with the Creator and doing what we’re supposed to.
I know what I’m supposed to do.
However, I get reading and think about things like, well, if we set out to do something (oh, like our jobs), we’re supposed to do them ‘as unto the Lord’, meaning with excellence and to completion. If it’s 5pm and I haven’t finished, I need to keep pressing on, right? If I accept the contract to teach a class, I need to … um, you know … teach it. That means I might need to work on Saturday or Sunday. Or both.
But by doing so, I’ve not taken the Sabbath, the time that’s holy, the time that’s for rest.
The Creator of the universe took a break from doing, making, and creating to rest. The Creator of the universe mandated that Creation do the same.
Old Testament discussion of Sabbath is amazing.
The land had to rest after several years … in other words, a farmer had to rotate planting. Use this field for the prescribed amount of time and then leave off for a while to go plant the other field. During the time the first field was left to go fallow, things would grow. The farmer had to leave it. Whatever grew was left for the animals to eat and people with economic and food disparities to pick.
There was enslavement in that time; people could conscript themselves as workers for someone, ‘become slaves’, for food, shelter, and necessities. It was also a way to pay a debt; if a person borrowed from another, the first person could enslave themselves to the second person (the lender) to cover the payment. However, Sabbath meant every holder of enslaved people had to let them go after six years. It was up to the enslaved person to stay or go (Exodus 21). If an enslaved person left, they didn’t go empty-handed (Deuteronomy 15).
Torah also covers the idea of Sabbath, or Sabat/Shabbat. the process of letting the fields rest from planting, canceling of debts, and freeing from enslavement that happened every seventh year (Shmita).
The idea of rest, particularly a holy rest, is prevalent in various religions outside Christ-following faiths.
It just makes good sense.
How it’s observed is another matter entirely. There are strict observances of the Sabbath as a day of rest, Sabbath as a day of rest and gathering together (think Seventh Day Adventists, who go to worship services on Saturdays), Sabbath keeping as a day of rest followed by gathering together (a day of rest on Saturday and gathering together on Sunday), or some combination of rest and gathering together or not (Non-Sabbatarians).
My attempts vary, in which I try to have a whole day, somehow, during the week to not work. I mean no yard work, no on the computer, nothing around the house at all. I don’t spend the day in prayer or anything like that; I have a time every day or if I can, multiple times a day, to spend with God. I pray every day.
But it’s the rest part that gets me.
I often work through lunch. I work into the evening. I occasionally work Saturday and Sunday, sometimes all day both days (except when I pause to watch service on Sunday morning, but lately I find myself guilty of working through that as well … I keep one eye on the screen with the service playing while I work from the other two screens, humming along with the worship music, stopping to attend to the sermon only. And there have been a couple times I’ve worked and taken sermon notes at the same time. Sheesh, real life).
I’m trying to beat the creep.
I’ve decided that I’ll at least take most of both weekend days not to work whenever I can. If that’s not possible, I’ll have the better part or all of one day. Today is my better part of a weekend day not to work … It’s about to go 9am, so I think I’m doing fairly well. However, my ‘no work’ will involve self-care, washing and twisting my hair, then letting it air dry while I watch television. I plan to stay away from the tech until after service tomorrow morning, allowing my personage to not be distracted by the desire to review a document or pop into an online classroom for just a peek. Service finishes a bit after 10am, so there’s the rest of the day to hurt my brain with document reviews and writing.
Yes, writing is work.
I’m doing some fiction work as well as some academic writing, so I hope to get in a pinch of that tomorrow as well, remembering not to keep the midnight oils burning.
Fortunately, I’m pretty good at shutting shop at 5pm. Well, sometimes 6 …
The creep is real.
The need for rest is greater though.
I’m learning. Really.
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