And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.
In her wondrous book, An Altar in the World, Barbara Brown Taylor’s chapter on Sabbath is called "The Practice of Saying No." She acknowledges that "it is difficult for most of us to say no because as much as most of us complain that we have too much to do, we harbor some pride that we are in demand." Ouch. Isn’t being busy a sign that we are productive, valuable? Aren’t we measured by how much we can accomplish?
As a recovering workaholic, I learned the hard way that Sabbath —resting one day in seven—may be the most important commandment we can fulfill as people of God. For years, I worked, in one form or another, seven days a week, proud to be a wife, mother, friend, and clergy person constantly on the go. Finally, I was rewarded for all that busyness: with a serious case of pneumonia!
The pneumonia was a gift,because it stopped me in my tracks, forcing me to be quiet and still, and to stay at home. I said "no" to everything and learned that Meister Eckhart is right: "God is not found in the soul by adding anything but by subtracting."
In hallowing and blessing the Sabbath, God makes time sacred. Unlike money, education, or even health, we all have exactly the same amount of time, and it is good to be reminded that time is a blessing. Given this gift of time, we are also responsible for how we use it, and I am convinced that a regular time to REST is essential for our spiritual and physical well-being.
Barbara Brown Taylor’s Sabbath prescription is,
one day in seven, pull off the road and park the car in the garage…turn off the computer. Stay home not because you are sick but because you are well…even if you spend one whole day being good for nothing,you are still precious in God’s sight—and if you get anxious, remember that your own conviction is not required. This is a commandment. —p.139
Take it from one who knows: Sabbath practice is not just a good idea; it is the key to wholeness and joy.
Help us, O God, to honor the time you have given us, by resting regularly and by saying "No" more often. Amen.
Copyright © 2010 Margaret Jones.