Does this sound familiar? Keep holy the Sabbath. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, that is one of the commandments. When I was growing up in a Christian household, that meant going to church every Sunday, a big afternoon meal with the immediate—and sometimes extended—family. It also meant no shopping because none of the stores were open—grocery or otherwise.
The word Sabbath comes from the Hebrew word shabbath, which means “a day of rest.” The creation story tells us that on the seventh day, God rested. That was a clue for us to do the same thing. Sabbath for those who practice Judaism is on Saturday, the seventh day. Christians traditionally have Sunday as their Sabbath and Muslims’ Sabbath is on Friday. Although it comes from a word that means a day of rest, the Sabbath goes beyond that. It is a day, or an hour or a moment for paying attention to and reflecting on the world around us, and then praising God in order to refresh ourselves.
And the good news is that, no matter what your religious or spiritual background, the Sabbath is always at hand. Writer Flora Slosson Wuellner suggest that we take personal Sabbaths. She says:
“Each hour we need tiny Sabbath moments of inner renewal: gazing at a sunbeam on the floor, looking at a beloved painting, smelling a flower, touching a leaf, listening to a bird, stretching and breathing deeply, holding our hands under running water, gently palming our eyes, or just quietly sensing God’s breath upon and within us. Such tiny but powerful Sabbath moments are especially important after intensive thinking, working, or interaction with other people.”
When do you observe the Sabbath? How do you observe it? Is it just one day a week, or is it an integrated part of your life?