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Sabbath

“I haven’t written on the blog in so long,” I told my partner a few weeks ago. “I feel bad about it. But it just wasn’t coming to me–and lately, when the words come, I simply can’t get myself to sit still and write them. I don’t know what’s wrong with me!”

“No reason to feel bad about it,” he said, matter-a-factly. “Even God took a break.”  Even God took a break.

Indeed, at the conclusion of the first creation narrative in Genesis 1, God takes a break–a seventh day sabbath.  Surely, God’s break warrants my own respite from the creation process, right?  This was consoling for a time…until the guilt began to encroach upon my psyche again.  “God took a break after doing something,” I told myself. “I haven’t done any writing at all lately!  And what’s more, God didn’t just create something. God created something ‘very good‘!” This logic only brings me right back to where I began.

This swirling mess of self-justification and degradation so often frames my daily reflection on life–not just my blogging life. If I’m not bemoaning my lazy writing practice, then it’s my inability to keep up with my growing email inbox or to-do lists, or my desire to work harder or fast or better, or harder and faster and better. The more I indulge this mindset, the more I find myself trapped in a world of insatiable demands.  This cannot be the “very good” world that God created…right?

“I feel like I’m drowning,” I recently said this to someone on a particularly overwhelming day of tasks. It’s something I have said a hundred times before on a hundred other days like that one, but on that day the figurative image flashed before me: my arms flailing about, splashing water everywhere, grasping for air.  Suddenly, I said to the drowning image of me, “Don’t you know that once you stop, you will float?”

It takes great courage to float–to believe that our survival does not depend on our own capacity to sustain ourselves.  Such a risk stands in opposition  to the myth of the self-made man that dominates the “American dream.”  That is a dream of insatiable demands. But that’s not the “very good” world I want to live-into anyways.

The great Jewish thinker Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote, “The world was brought into being in the six days of creation, yet its survival depends upon the holiness of the seventh day.”  I’m trying to live like this–to live out the belief that my creation, my own hard work, will not alone sustain my survival. Sometimes, we all need to rest–to float–until the gentle current pulls us into another space of creativity again.

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5 Comments

  1. Jeff Coblentz says:

    Welcome back.

    Rabbi Heschel’s “The Sabbath” – a good book.

  2. Barb H says:

    My own dear, sweet, sage mother often told me to float when I was overwhelmed. Glad that you came to that conclusion

  3. Jen says:

    It’s good to remember that I do not need to sustain myself. Floating sounds nice…especially in a sunny, warm place.

  4. LKF says:

    I love this – letting go and floating, to take a break from the frantic flailing of our day to day. That’s a Sabbath practice if I ever heard one.

  5. Alf says:

    Don’t listen to everything Jack says. That’s my advice. 😉

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