I have observed the Sabbath since I was a child.
By “observing the Sabbath,” I mean that I go to church on Sundays, and also I don’t work on Sundays, because my job does not require it of me. And that’s it.
I don’t want to act as though such acts are inconsequential. They were my way of acknowledging God’s desire for me to rest and to obey Him. And for my husband, who is basically on call for his job 24-7, the Sabbath is a radical step away from all the things that claim his attention every other day of the week.
But if I am being very honest, I never gave much thought to the Sabbath beyond this. I’ve read articles, of course, about what Sabbath means on a spiritual level, and I have generally appreciated the concept, but I’ve never had a real revelation about it. Sundays have been set apart, but the only difference between them and Saturday for me is that on Saturday I go to church.
But all of that has changed, recently.
It started with crochet. Since I have learned to crochet, I find now that almost every night I betake myself to the couch with yarn and a hook. I listen to some sort of inoffensive background noise – a TV show I’ve already watched, or maybe some music – and I crochet. And it is deeply lovely: soothing, calm. A coda to a busy day.
Over time, and to fill the spaces where I have stepped back from technology and gadgets, other creative habits slipped back in. Sometimes, if I do not crochet, I work with Sculpey clay. I type 500 words on a novel I’m writing. I edit photography. And somehow, the creative habits prompted a journaling habit each day – a time when I think out loud in writing about the joys and pleasures of the day, where I meditate on God a bit, am grateful for things, plot out hopeful future project, dreams, delights.
And it occurred to me, as I was sitting there on one of those nights, feeling deeply fulfilled for no particular reason and just enjoying being alive—slipping the hook in and out of yarn, thinking, this is such a little pleasure, and God is good, that this was Sabbath. Sabbath! A time of rest, of pleasure, of enjoying, a time of just being present and alive to God’s goodness, of being still, of letting the current move me.
In his book The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose for an Age of Distraction, Justin Earley references an instruction he once read from a rabbi: those who work with their minds, the rabbi said, should Sabbath with their hands. And those who work with their hands should Sabbath with their minds. While I don’t know if it applies to everyone in every situation, I can see exactly how such an instruction applies to me. Getting out of my work-brain going-doing-being-what’s next headspace is made most possible when I step away from all the things that keep my mind turning and settle instead into what quiets it: crochet, petting sleepy kittens, noodling out how the light should fall on a stone in a photograph, scraping out clay from under my fingernails.
And now, having found this particular joy for myself, I can’t imagine leaving it. It is so very good. When work gets stressful or life starts to squeeze in, I find myself thinking of those simple evenings, and of the simple evening I will have soon, and it develops perspective. The moment is madness, but rest is promised. I am a woman who is always going, doing, being—but tonight I won’t have to be.
In that stillness, God creeps in. In the joy of working on something simple, in a loop through a hook, in puzzling out the right sentence for a character in a novel, I feel the joy of engaging in a great love, and I sense God’s spirit there. I remember that we were created really to love God and enjoy fellowship with Him, and that He has given us good and joyful things to do. I think, as I sit contentedly and work on a washcloth, or read over a particularly good paragraph I finished, that this might be a little of what heaven is like: engaging in deep goodness, God alongside, enjoying every small aspect of the little moment because nothing else could be grander right then. From that, then, spills gratitude, and a sense of being beloved, of being known, of being deeply blessed.
I can’t give you instructions on how to find Sabbath. But it is more, I am understanding, then a promise not to work on Sunday, or to do God things on Sunday, or to get well-rested, or avoid lawn work. There is a deep, deep pleasure in the restful times, part of the necessary rhythm of life in the not-doing that accompanies our daily living. Whatever that is for you—and I hope you experiment with it!—I pray that you will find it and that, having settled into that quiet stillness of time, you recognize God there and simply enjoy His company.
The Sabbath is, indeed, quite good.