But there is something, in the Jewish Sabbath that is absent from most Christian Sundays: a true cessation from the rhythms of work and world, a time wholly set apart, and, perhaps above all, a sense that the point of Shabbat, the orientation of Shabbat, is toward God. ~ Laurie Winner, Mudhouse Sabbath: An Invitation to a Life of Spiritual Disciplines
After reading Buchanan’s thoughts on Sabbath and the comparison between the Exodus and Deuteronomy commands, I found Winner’s book, Mudhouse Sabbath, and bought it for my Kindle. As much as Buchanan challenged my mind, Winner spoke to my spirit, to that deep place in me that knew somehow our Sunday rituals of eating out and taking naps are not the true spirit of Sabbath-keeping.
As a convert from Judaism to Christianity, she has great insight into these practices of the Jewish faith and how deeply the simple act of practicing Sabbath, Shabbat, transforms the thinking and attitude of the one who is doing so.
I read her description of rushing about on Friday afternoon to fix all the food necessary for the next 25 hours – frantic shopping, chopping, and cooking. The madness of preparation … and then lighting a candle to indicate the Sabbath has begun. All that frenzy immediately stopped by a single flame.
Have you ever gazed into a candle’s flame? There is something almost mystical about the flickering, the way even a small movement can alter the course of the flame. A calming yet fascinating light.
Perhaps we’ve so immersed ourselves in the frenzy of preparing to rest that we’ve missed the truth that rest is almost always a sudden stop, a conscious choice to change our focus to the flame, to the light.
Maybe, just maybe, we need that sudden stop … that full cessation of all activity … in order to understand Sabbath, true rest. We need to be reoriented toward God and that is impossible to do when we continue to orient ourselves toward the speed of life.
Perhaps slowing begins with a sudden stop.
What are your thoughts on Sabbath-keeping? How does the idea of lighting that candle to mark the beginning of Sabbath speak to you?