SABBATH: a time of rest

I love naps.  If I was to suggest a constitutional amendment it would have nothing to do with marriage and everything to do with siestas.  When it comes to the big ten, I give the commandment to observe the Sabbath two thumbs up!

Recently, I was reading Year of Plenty by Craig Goodwin.  It’s a book about his family’s attempt to reduce consumption and live in a more holistic and sustainable way.  It is not a new topic, nor is it the best writing on the subject, but the fact that Mr. Goodwin is a minister looking at the call to sustainability from a spiritual perspective makes it unique.  His family started their journey in the growing season equivalent of the Sabbath – January in the northwest.  He has this to say about the Sabbath:

We tend to imagine the Sabbath as a time of rest at the end of a long week, a time to recharge batteries and gear up for another crazy week. Indeed, in the Jewish observation it has always been the seventh day, the last day of the week.  But it’s important to take note that in the book of Genesis, the Sabbath is creation’s seventh day, but for humankind it is the first full day.  As the story goes man and woman are created and commissioned [with]… a comprehensive call to productivity and action, the ultimate pep talk.

Imagine awaking for this first day with the longest to-do list ever devised hanging on the fridge and God says, “First we rest.”  … The Hebrew word Shabbat literally means “stop.”  The first full day in creation for man and woman was not a day of work, but a day of stopping and waiting…

I’ve always found it curious that in the first Genesis creation account the creative energies of each day are summed up with the words, “And there was evening, and there was morning…”  In the same way that the Sabbath is first and not last, this order of evening and morning confuses our normal way of thinking.  We imagine morning as the beginning of a new day.  We tend to see our waking to action as the beginning place but the rhythm of creation puts the evening first.  The wisdom of the Jewish observation of the Sabbath has always been to follow this pattern, starting not at sunup but at sundown.  The day begins not with taking charge, but rather with letting go in the vulnerability of darkness and sleep. 

I like the idea of starting my day with a good night’s rest.  Often, I spend the minutes preceding sleep fretting over the parenting mistakes of the day that just passed.  If I view bedtime as the start of a new day then I can skip the mental flogging, embrace my clean slate and focus on my goals for the day to come.  And, it means I’ll have approximately 8-hours of mistake-free parenting under my belt by the time I serve my children breakfast (provided I don’t forget to feed them breakfast).

I have a track record of better parenting on days that begin with a mini-Sabbath.  A cup of coffee consumed in silence.  An energizing run.  A few minutes lost in a book.   Runners take a rest week (or two) before a marathon.  So, it is reasonable that I take a moment (or two) to rest my mommy muscles prior to running through a day with children.  In fact, pushing the snooze button might just be the spiritually enlightened thing to do.


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