We Are About Relationships
God’s work of creation comes to a close at the start of Genesis chapter 2:
Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all their multitude. And on the seventh day God finished the work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all the work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work that he had done in creation.
Scholar Richard Elliott Friedman, in his commentary on the Torah, takes note of the phrase, “blessed the seventh day and hallowed it.” He makes this observation: While God blessed the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and humankind made in the very “image of God,” the first thing God made holy (hallowed) was a day. A period of time. Wow. I have to admit I’d never seen that before. But that would certainly account for God’s insistence that God’s people take seriously their Sabbath keeping.
This weekend nearly 200 of us made the annual pilgrimage to Beersheba Springs. To keep Sabbath. To experience the sacredness of a period of time set aside for fellowship with God and with God’s people. To walk among trees. To play games. To get lost in a book in a rocking chair. To speak face to face (rather than facebook to facebook). To listen to breezes, birds, and children. To be quiet. To enjoy meals with each other seated around tables. To sing. To pray. To read Scripture. To laugh out loud. To breathe deeply.
One other thing we did worth sharing is this: we all made ourselves a “Sabbath box.” The idea was inspired by Wayne Muller’s book Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy lives (one of Carol’s book recommendations). Behind the idea is that what often prevents us from keeping Sabbath are those “to do” lists we feel we cannot put aside or those “still not done” tasks that feel like burdens. The box is supposed to serve as a symbolic placeholder for those kind of tasks, allowing us to spend time “away” from them, while they remain in the box. The box we made during the retreat was a small one, about the size of a cell phone battery . . . Hmmm. Maybe we all should have a box that size. Wonder how that would be, to remove our phone batteries at some point each week. For—gasp!—an hour.
I’m writing this on Sunday night. So I realize tomorrow, most of us will be back to work. Back to school. Back to schedules and routines and traffic. Back on the world’s time.
I’m going to try to remember that the first thing God made holy was a day’s worth of time—and said we should keep it that way.