I’ve fallen behind again, and I apologize. Rather than dwell here on chronology — more building, Golden Calf and so on — I’m stuck on something mentioned several times.
The idea of the Sabbath.
Resting on the seventh day. Doing no work.
On the one hand, one day of rest seems small. We’re used to our evenings and weekends and such. On the other hand, when I think about it, a day of real rest seems impossibly luxurious.
Because here’s the thing about the world as it is now — we don’t really rest. We get days off our paid work (maybe) but we don’t rest. Because now our work is divorced from our survival. We work for money to pay the bills, but we still have the every day business of life. The cooking, the cleaning, the groceries, the laundry. The messy human business of clothing and feeding ourselves, of keeping our surroundings up and making them nice, these things still have to happen. We just don’t call them work.
So really on our weekends, we don’t rest. We switch gears. We send personal emails instead of work ones, we go to the store, we catch up on our laundry and dishes. Plus trying to squeeze in seeing friends, socializing, fun. Half of us (or more) wind up feeling more exhausted by the end of the weekend than when we started.
I remember when I was younger, I had a friend named Rachel. Rachel was Jewish and her family was fairly observant. Some weekends, I would spend the night at her house over the Sabbath. I remember those as being some of the best times. Come sundown Friday, the TV was off. There was Shabbat dinner, which I didn’t really understand, but it was beautiful and fun and I liked the challah and the candles and the fun. Because there was no TV, Rachel and her sisters and I would dress up and act out our own evening show. I’d stay on Saturday, and there would be no TV again, but playing, reading, board games. Until my parents picked me up, or they walked me home.
There was a sense of quiet and reflection and togetherness. It was amazing, even at a young age.
I miss that in life. I think about trying to carve out time, but it’s so hard with so many demands. Plus there are other challenges — as a single person, I miss the idea of family togetherness. I’d like that time with friends, just being together, but they have their own families and we all have busy schedules.
Yet, I come back to this command, to keep the Sabbath. Going to church is good — I like church, I like worship and ritual. But sometimes I wonder that without the rest of it — without the rest, the quiet, the contemplation, the community — that we might be missing the point.
It makes me wonder how, in this modern world, it’s possible to keep the Sabbath. What it would look like, and how it would be.