There is a little book I found in a small bookstore in Missouri. Its name is “Sabbaths.” It fairly leapt out at me as I browsed for a book that I needed to read at that time.
The name, “Sabbaths,” led me, at first, to think it was religious in its message. But it was deeper than that.
When I looked up the word “sabbath,” my dictionary said it stood for a day of rest. It extends from Friday evening to Saturday evening and it is a time of worship for Jews and some Christians.
I was looking for how it could pertain to my life, and it was exactly the message I needed. As the book explains, it is about the importance of taking or making moments (from a moment to a month to however long it might take) to stop outside of our daily routine and commitments and enjoy the moment.
It is to be aware of what surrounds us: color, the feel of air across our body and hair, and sounds, from the heavy grinding sound of force as a train passes to the tiniest movement in the grass as a bug makes its way.
We can even have a sabbath while reading a book or listening to a sermon, giving us permission to revisit what someone said to us or did to us and how it affected our life.
All of us can have sabbaths in life, but most often we miss them entirely or, even if we don’t miss them, we surely miss their importance.
And we miss them because we don’t know how to stop. We miss them partly because of our ingrained work ethic and partly because we really can’t stop what we’re doing and switch gears and give ourselves that gift.
I get trapped by both of these. Sticking to the task at hand until it’s done; my Dad taught me this.
Also I have trouble stopping any job in the middle, step outside myself and bend to take in and inhale the heavenly scent of a jasmine bush. And what about stopping to watch two big squirrels chasing each other back and forth across the stone wall outside my window? Actually, I just did this, and the freedom and the joy they felt spilled over me. Silently I thanked them for sharing their moment.
One of the most precious examples of a sabbath happened on Gene’s and my wedding day. We were married on the beach in Key Biscayne just at sunset. Among the guests were resident raccoons and sand crabs who dared to peek out of the their sand holes to see what all the fuss was about.
There were strangers jogging at waters edge who stopped out of respect during the ceremony. And of course there was the family.
Just as the minister began to speak, the December sky gently covered us in pink literally, the fluffy white clouds usually blanketing the shore turned the palest pink turning the entire horizon, for a breath taking moment. Everyone felt it, but only Gene experienced and claimed the sabbath moment.
“Please,” he said to the minister, “could we stop for a minute and look at the sky? The sky has turned a delicate pink just for us, and we must not miss it.”
Everything stopped the only movement was the in and out of the waves even the lapping on the beach was hushed.
All of the guests looked up and, seeing the gauzy pink sky above the quiet sandy beach, everyone had stopped their world and experienced a sabbath.
Only a few moments it was, but when the ceremony began anew, it held a new spirituality, a more blessed memory for later on. And this all happened because Gene felt the sabbath deeply enough to stop the world, indeed his own wedding, and share the moment. It is by far the most vivid memory of our wedding day that December eve.
As I sat writing this column, suddenly, a familiar sound came to me through the open window. There, drinking his nectar from the new feeder was a beautiful male hummingbird. He moved so fast, and by the time I got up to see him only his humming sound lingered. But I actually had a sabbath. I heard his voice, his thank you for giving nectar to him and the joy he shared when he drank.
Let’s don’t let our sabbaths pass us by.