Whatever is foreseen in joy
Must be lived out from day to day.
Vision held open in the dark
By our ten thousand days of work.
Harvest will fill the barn; for that
The hand must ache, the face must sweat.
And yet no leaf or grain is filled
By work of ours; the field is tilled
And left to grace. That we may reap,
Great work is done while we’re asleep.
When we work well, a Sabbath mood
Rests on our day, and finds it good.
— Wendell Berry from A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979-1997
Sabbath, in the first instance, is not about worship. It is about work stoppage. It is about withdrawal from the anxiety system of Pharaoh, the refusal to let one’s life be defined by production and consumption and the endless pursuit of private well-being.
— Walter Brueggemann from Journey to the Common Good
Learn by little the desire for all things
which perhaps is not desire at all
but undying love which perhaps
is not love at all but gratitude
for the being of all things which
perhaps is not gratitude at all
but the maker’s joy in what is made,
the joy in which we come to rest.
— Wendell Berry from Leavings: Poems
… anyone engaging the practice of Shabbat can expect a rough ride for a couple of years at least. This is because Sabbath involves pleasure, rest, freedom and slowness, none of which comes naturally to North Americans. Most of us are so sold on speed, so invested in productivity, so convinced that multitasking is the way of life that stopping for one whole day can feel at first like a kind of death.
— Barbara Brown Taylor, author of An Altar in the World: A Geography of Faith
(excerpt from “The Christian Century” Published in May 31, 2005)
Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.
Care For The Seed of Eternity
Creating holiness in time requires a different sensibility than building a cathedral in space: “We must conquer space in order to sanctify time.” …
The meaning of the Sabbath is to celebrate time rather than space. Six days a week we
live under the tyranny of things of space; on the Sabbath we try to become attuned to
holiness in time. It is a day on which we are called upon to share in what is eternal in
time, to turn from the results of creation to the mystery of creation; from the world of
creation to the creation of the world …
He who wants to enter the holiness of the day must first lay down the profanity of
clattering commerce, of being yoked to toil. He must go away from the screech of
dissonant days, from the nervousness and fury of acquisitiveness and the betrayal in
embezzling his own life. He must say farewell to manual work and learn to understand
that the world has already been created and will survive without the help of man. Six
days a week we wrestle with the world, wringing profit from the earth; the Sabbath we
especially care for the seed of eternity planted in the soul …
Unless one learns how to relish the taste of Sabbath while still in this world, unless one is initiated in the appreciation of eternal life, one will be unable to enjoy the taste of eternity in the world to come. Sad is the lot of him who arrives inexperienced and when led to heaven has no power to perceive the beauty of the Sabbath …
— Abraham Joshua Heschel from The Sabbath