Fortnight Day6: Sabbath
And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.
If the presidential election, nine days hence, is to address the anxieties and despairing so many carry, it will require more than replacing one person with another. It will require more than changing the nameplates on office doors. It will require a transformation in us. It will require Sabbath. While many swamps may need to be drained, the primary swamp needing attention may be within the human heart.
Whatever the outcome of the vote, whether known in a few hours or several weeks, the temptation then will be to continue in the patterns and habits established out of anxiety, grievance and distrust. Sabbath will be required. Walter Brueggemann reminds: “Sabbath is the occasion to reimagine all of social life away from coercion and competition to compassionate solidarity. Sabbath is not simply the pause that refreshes. It is the pause that transforms.” (Brueggemann, Sabbath as Resistance, p. 44)
I fear many things. I am anxious about much. Mostly, however, I desire to move from patterns of constant anxiety to another way of life. A way where I know the gifts of sabbath. The joy of rest, restoration, re-imagination and resistance. Joan Chittister wrote: “Sabbath is that period for holy leisure when I take time to look at life in fresh, new ways.” She encourages “contemplative leisure.”
Sabbath can serve as the great equalizer — it is a time when we are freed to set competition aside. As a great equalizer we are freed to recall that all share in creation; each other person is neighbor. Again Walter Brueggemann writes: The task is to SEVEN our lives. — On the Sabbath Day these vulnerable neighbors shall be like you. Sabbath is not simply a pause, but the occasion to re-imagine all of society away from coercion and competition. (Sabbath as Resistance, p. 43)
A Jewish Sabbath Prayer: Days pass, Years vanish, And we walk sightless among miracles.