Say “sabbath” and this is the flickering image that comes to mind: winter 2008, cold Wednesday evenings in a small church library, the gas heater fired up, seven of us gathered around a portable parson’s table, atop it a stoneware candleholder both corralling and directing the light of a fat candle, sitting in silence for 10 minutes. It was a “Sabbath and Simplicity” discussion group, a waypoint between: between the busyness of our days and the talking of the hour to come, between a dark season and a light one.
That was sabbath in a loose sense: showing up, being quiet, in between. The breath, the rest, the suspension, of a comma.
The rest part is what appeals to me. Not the sense of command (which expired long ago). Not the regularity of “do this every seventh day.” Though I understand and even admire that this is a rut in the best sense, and I recognize possibly I’d benefit from it, it’s not the repetition I choose. It’s the rest.
There is one situation when a bit of this rest comes, when there’s nothing to do but yield and wait.
It’s sort of a microretreat. I have a seat, a small desk. Room with a view. No WiFi. Light sustenance: a drink, a snack. Captive in a good way. A between: a waypoint, if even that. Not a destination. A winnowing of options. A calm. Something left behind. Nowhere to go but forward.
Before that, even, there’s the waypoint of the waiting area. Becoming a seed of calm in these crowded transitional spaces. All these faces, every one concealing and revealing stories. All of us, for the moment, setting our baggage down.
Sabbath rest is resisting the temptation to look it up, both definition and etymology. It’s taking time to look at the people around me, all of us at a waypoint between where we’ve been and where we’re going, all of us both transparent and opaque. Rest is what’s necessary to become the neither that is both: translucent, in a condition to let the light in, and let it through.
This was written in response to, and is linked up with, The High Calling’s prompt on keeping Sabbath. Also linking up with Lisha Epperson’s #givemegrace, Kelli Woodford’s Unforced Rhythms and Laura Boggess’s The Wellspring.