Shabbat is almost here. The gentleness of morning has slipped away and now the joyful but clomping boots of afternoon have ramped up the pace of this day of preparation.
I wanted to take a moment and share an encouraging word about the principle of withdrawing, as it pertains to Shabbat. While Shabbat is a time to enter into a suspension of space so that time might be experienced on Earth as it is in Heaven, we know from the Torah that everything that we do is paired with something that we don't do. The opposite of that, naturally, is also true.
As we enter into the time of Shabbat that the Creator put in motion on that first week of creation, we also withdraw from our weekly activities.The things that consume us for six days are set aside on the seventh day, spiritually, physically, globally, in community, and individually. The usual workday is replaced with a set apart day that is removed from the earthly pursuits of commerce, tasks, strategies, chores, and work.
As we enter into the rest, we withdraw from the work. We withdraw from the arguments. We withdraw from the nagging, the planning, and the politics. We spend the time of Shabbat in rest, both physically and mentally. We have prepared for the time, and we enjoy the time. What a gift!
It is a general truism that it takes 7 days to create a habit. It seems that the number 7 (which spiritually symbolizes completion) has more meaning than the world understands. If you consider spending six days in a particular environment, and then retreating from that environment for 24 hours, you might realize that there is an added bonus built right into that action. When the seventh day is over, we reinitiate our regular, temporal lives. We re-enter the environments we had retreated from. With that action, there is going to be a default setting providing perspective. You might ask yourself questions about what you are re-entering that are not generated when you live a homogenized week of similarity with a lack of pausing. Indeed, living without retreating is a prime way to prevent the opportunity to be deliberate about our activities and relationships.
After Shabbat, when I am particularly rested and peaceful, the glare of an unhealthy relationship might become more apparent than if I had engaged in those interactions without ceasing. Submission to the patterns of the relationship would become a habit that I would engage in without a mindful understanding of what that reationship is costing me. This new angle perspective alerts me to areas of self care I must attend to. It also shines a light on behaviors that, I, myself, engage in that are intrusive and unproductive. Pausing from these actions and reactions actually sets me up to make a conscious decision of what I actually want to do and not do.
Walking steadfast with no rest from the matters of the world; even just my world, creates a system of strategies that engulf me as a person until I find myself breaking down. Taking that day of retreat allows for space between me and these activities, and thus allows for perspective to opt out...or to really appreciate whatever that might be. It gives me understanding and wisdom into my own world, the world around me, and hopefully those who observe Shabbat who are in my world are finding their own revelations and perspectives.
This is what makes a community healthy. This is what makes individual people healthy. It all fits in to that bigger understanding of trust that we should have in the Father regarding His commandments. If He requires it, He has designed us to function optimally because of it. We can trust Him.
Shabbat is setting aside space and embracing time. It is setting aside the mundane to embrace the Spiritual. It is setting aside the work to embrace the rest. With that weekly pacing mechanism, I am engaging in a consistency that pulls me into healthy rhythms. The tides of the Spirit draw me into familiar moments and traditional settings that allow me to think more clearly. It sets up for me a clear "normal" with defined boundaries and parameters.
Fridays usually start with that anticipation of preparation. When I don't feel that, I must investigate. Sundays usually start with that excitement launching out of that rest to get back into the groove. When I feel otherwise, again, I must investigate. Shabbat is not for show and tell, but it certainly does show and tell.
May your Shabbat be refreshing, your heart be nourished, and your home be filled with peace.