Signposts: Daily Devotions

Sunday, September 28

Remember the Sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, or your son or your daughter, you male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns.
—Exodus 20: 8-10

I have become a fanatic about the Sabbath! As an overachiever and workaholic, when it finally dawned on me that a) I was dispensable and b) I enjoyed not feeling needed all that much, I wanted to tell everyone. Thanks to a group of women volunteers who did all the organizing, I was able to put a dream of mine into action: half-day silent retreats for women, on the first Friday of every month. The attendance at these retreats has been remarkable.

“I have scheduled my work to be off the first Fridays,” one woman told me. “This is the most important thing I do,” said another. There is no magic to these retreats. Over and over, the retreatants tell me that what they value most is the silence, and taking the time apart to calm down and renew their relationships with God.

The retreats are a kind of Sabbath for these women, and certainly for me, but as we’ve experienced the retreats, I have learned that Sabbath is more than rest. Martin Marty says that Sabbath “is more desistance, abstention, a letting go and a ruling one’s self off from work and its attendant anxieties that do not permit quietness of heart.”

Quietness of heart…isn’t that what is missing when we stay busy all the time? Marty continues, “Our great need has not to do with getting more rest, though it can be welcomed. Our need is for meaning, for finding the why that makes our hows possible.”

Sabbath is not sloth; it is a sacrament, an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

Almighty God, who after the creation of the world rested from all your works and sanctified a day of rest for all your creatures, grant that we may have the courage, and wisdom, to quiet our hearts, and to rest in you, now and forever. Amen.

The Signposts for September are written by Margaret Jones and originally appeared on explorefaith in 2005.