This past Saturday, after working hard to get in the forty hours of writing that I mentioned last week–I got about 33, but that’s another entry–I took a Sabbath. An imperfect, somewhat selfish, utterly amazing Sabbath. It was the first time I’d ever done an intentional Sabbath in that way, trying to cease from working, resting to keep a day holy. It’s been on my mind for several years, and yet finally, Saturday, I took a stab at it.
It was a simple day in which I decided to practice the first step of Sabbath Keeping, a first step that I’d been taught in several different books and lectures. That first step is to simply stop. Stop doing what you’ve been doing. Stop the work, stop the activity, stop the productivity, stop the chasing and the yearning and the trying to control life. Sit and feel the ceasing, feel the cessation of the never ending madness of living, and let the stillness settle into you and remember that the Lord stopped and looked over his creation and simply took delight in what He had made.
A couple of things happened. I have lamented in recent years that I do not know how to rest. And my reason has been simple. As a creative person who writes and makes things and has dreams of making more things, every book, every film, every play, and every poem becomes a piece to be studied and contemplated from a functional and utilitarian point of view. When as a child and student, I once read for the sheer delight of it, because I was swept away in a story, now I’m reading to understand the inciting incident, or how the writer managed to build Act Two to a climax, or how the writer managed to create an award-winning character study, etc. Always, always thinking of how to increase my effectiveness, increase my success, all the while losing my ability to refuel my tank, until the tank gets to be very dry, and the creative flow is little more than scratching out words in a laborious process that has little joy.
So one of my “delights” of Sabbath was to read for no reason except for delight. It was like sticking my thirsty face into a bucket of fresh water. Immediately, I felt a joy return that I’d been missing. Simple, simple, simple. Dumb, dumb, dumb to forget.
The second thing was that Sunday morning, in my alone time with God, I recognized something. Myself. There was a clarity and joy to my inner life that was unmistakable, and it was both a shock and a joy. Profound.
Will all my Sabbaths yield this kind of experience? Probably not. But how gracious is God to give me a first one so surprisingly refreshing and re-creative.
Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy…