santa-barbara

This soul is 28 and tired. Already.

Everybody wonders, What if the worst happens to me? Will I survive it? The worst hasn’t happened to us (thank God), but I never considered the alternative: Sitting on the edge of the worst, sometimes close, sometimes farther away, but always side-by-side, crawling to an unknown end. This crawl diminishes all good things.

I’m challenging myself to see the crawl as a pilgrimage. It’s an epic journey where surprise provision is made, fellow pilgrims join me, and the vistas and the valleys don’t distract me from the goal: to finish well.

When I look at where Brad and I are with a pilgrimage in mind, I know it’s fair to call the day-to-day managing of his illness work. I recognize the constant pressure this journey puts on us and know it needs some relief. I also know relief doesn’t always come from the same source. Saturday, it was yoga. Sunday, it was discovering Two Dots for the iPad and letting my brain play.

Today, I’m drawing a line connecting how needy my soul is for rest and my months-long curiosity about Sabbath traditions. Mainly, as a disciple of Jesus, does this Jewish tradition have anything for me? And how does Jesus reframe the Sabbath for me? (The other, more quiet question: Would I have the discipline to change what’s now a grab-bag of days for one that’s intentional? And even more quiet, but it’s The Big One: If we do change, how would God use this in our lives?)

I need rest. My husband needs rest. Our marriage needs rest. Out of that rest, I want new energy, fresh creativity, and a more true devotion.

That sounds awesome, doesn’t it? I grabbed these quotes from a book by Abraham Joshua Heschel I read on the Sabbath. Read them and tell me you don’t want that kind of rest and peace. They’re helping me think about what a Sabbath day might be for us, but I’m curious if any of you have already done this. Maybe you have another way to refocus. What is it?

 

He must say farewell to manual work and learn to understand that the world has already been created and will survive without the help of man. Six days a week we wrestle with the world, wringing profit from the earth; on the Sabbath we especially care for the seed of eternity planted in the soul.

 

Relaxation, then, is not an end; it is “for the sake of activity,” for the sake of gaining strength for new efforts. To the biblical mind, however, labor is the means toward an end, and the Sabbath as a day of rest, as a day of abstaining from toil, is not for the purpose of recovering one’s lost strength and becoming fit for the forthcoming labor. The Sabbath is a day for the sake of life. Man is not a beast of burden, and the Sabbath is not for the purpose of enhancing the efficiency of his work.  …  Labor is a craft, but perfect rest is an art. It is the result of an accord of body, mind, and imagination. To attain a degree of excellence in art, one must accept its discipline, one must adjure slothfulness. The day is a palace in time which we build.

 

Even when the soul is seared, even when no prayer can come out of our tightened throats*, the clean, silent rest of the Sabbath leads us to a realm of endless peace, or to the beginning of an awareness of what eternity means.

 *I felt this way yesterday and am so thankful for the people I told who said, “That’s ok, we’ll pick it up for you today and pray. We’ll give you that rest.”

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