Sabbath Time, as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel states is “architecture in time“. “The higher goal of spiritual living is not to amass a wealth of information, but to face sacred moments”. (The Sabbath, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux (NY: NY, 1951) 6.
Sabbath time liberates us from the oppression of spending the lion’s share of our time buying, or managing our stuff. It is freedom from the colonization of our time and energy for profit, the acquisition and control of more and more….It is about enough. It is about relationship. Turning and facing the often missed, holy moments right in front of our collective faces.
As the COVID-19 quarantine deepens, driving us further into our personal spaces, I see the human community finding creative ways to connect. From the Ohio siblings who arranged a personal cello concert for their elderly shut in neighbors— to the 23 year old woman on my Next Door Neighbor social media platform, offering to be of service to anyone over 60 who is shut in(since her family is far away on the east coast).
As we settle in for what’s to come….a “new normal”, it seems…. I am grateful for the small things. The fact that humankind is being given a “gentle” reminder of how to live together in a time of political division and ideological splintering. Thank God it wasn’t nuclear war that drove us into hibernation—or a devastating climate event(though most are still recovering from climate fires, hurricanes, tornadoes…) Instead, an insidious, invisible virus has driven a whole world to our collective knees. We are finding new ways of being human together in the face of a devastating disease. We are all vulnerable together.
I am grateful for the natural communities we often take for granted or outright ignore. I can still go for a walk in the wild places, where the peace of wild things is an antidote to all fears and ills—for a time at least.
I am grateful for enough. My cupboards have enough. My bank account has enough. my family has enough for now. As the human family has been forced to slow down and even come to a dead stop, perhaps we will learn what our true “enough” is. The good news is, we are giving Mother Nature a chance to recover from the insane, insatiable, unsustainable ways of human lifestyle and commerce that are taking away her lifeblood, (and ours)day by day, drip by drip. Thank God, she can put up her feet and rest for awhile.
I am grateful for leisurely work. In my book Soul Tending: Journey into the heart of Sabbath, I talk about leisurely work. That is exactly what I am doing these days. In between cleaning closets, taking a walk, hanging out with my spouse, long lazy meals, warming my back in front of a fireplace, and beekeeping, I am spending chunks of time here and there on ZOOM calls with colleagues, or google hangout with family and friends, or sitting at my dining room table with my computer work —punctuated of course, by more leisurely time.
I am grateful for technology. As much as I’ve complained about social media and the need for a Sabbath technology fast, now I’m finding these tools very valuable. I don’t need to get into my car or board an airplane or bus and go anywhere. My nervous system has calmed down. I feel more integrated. Peaceful. Less harried. A rhythm that makes sense to my body and soul.
I am grateful for the human family. This is not something I give thanks for every day. But I am buoyed and downright verklempt these days by the ways human beings are caring for one another.
Many if not most of our human communities are very vulnerable right now. The service and leisure industry has come to a halt. People have been laid off. Small businesses are struggling to stay solvent. Paychecks are gone. People are frantic for food, medicine and toilet paper. How to protect our elders? Our children? Our loved ones?
“How do we support our community?” is uppermost in our minds.
Albuquerque’s tiny but mighty business, Elixir Boutique Chocolatiers, sent an urgent message recently. They’ve spent months making artisanal chocolate for the Quintessence music concert which was scheduled to happen this weekend. Cancelled. And then there’s the chocolate, coffee and wine event at the Convention center. Cancelled. They are facing bankruptcy and total losses. March is their biggest sales month of the year. After 25 years, their small staff of employees will be laid off permanently if they can’t recoup sales. They are offering on-line sales in a last ditch effort to stay open.
The list is endless of whom is being affected. I urge you to put out the word for those struggling, who could use assistance. It’s how we care for one another.
And me? I am going to go buy some chocolate right now.
(which does seem a bit paradoxically contrary to where I started this article! What can I say?!)