Rules for Radical Sabbathtarians
“Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy.” – Exodus 20:8
I just returned from a luxurious three month sabbatical, escaping New York’s hard winter for North Miami Beach.
As a writer and a pastor, I have mostly written about Sabbath keeping in the 21st century. Sabbath is spiritual rest or rest for the spirit. This one-seventh of our time is time to enjoy God, which is the holiest of holies. I goofball more than most of my peers – and I do so because I know how important my rest is to my work, my leisure is to my productivity. I also suffer from a God complex and resting more than God did is therapy to that complex.
Really good Sabbathtarians (of which club I am not a member) lose the guilt early. They also figure out how to do nothing. I took my three month sabbatical over four months and worked a week a month. The work was a kind of reverse sabbatical, giving me more rest than I realized it would.
Also, I learned how to be (briefly each day) an escapee from the dominant narrative: “You are what you do. If you don’t do it, no one else will. Hard work is the route to justice.” I could bask (sometimes) in the renewable energy of God’s narrative: “You are a creature. You are not in charge of the universe. You are not supplied by electric power or motor power or energy you buy from a company. You are not a diminishing resource. You are a renewing resource. You are powered by sun and wind.”
Show us Sabbath giving and Sabbath taking God, how to enjoy both rest and work. Remind us that not everybody “gets” a sabbatical and still you offer rest to all. Amen.
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her most recent book is I Heart Frances: Letters to the Pope from an Unlikely Admirer.