Reclaim the Sabbath

Life is about presence, not productivity.


The writer Abraham Joshua Heschel said that the Sabbath is ‘a cathedral in time’. Sadly, most of our Sabbaths seem to have done a Notre Dame and burned down (too soon?).

It’s time to rebuild.

I’ve always found it fascinating that ‘keep the Sabbath holy’ makes it onto the ten commandments. On the same list that says ‘do not kill’ and ‘do not steal’, God says ‘make sure you take time every week to unwind properly.’

God must have seen consumerism coming, and given us a weapon to fight it with.

Sabbath is a declaration that we are human beings, not human doings.

Sabbath is a protest against over-consumption.

Sabbath says that life is about presence, not productivity.

In a world that keeps shouting ‘more’, Sabbath says ‘less’. In a world that keeps shouting ‘work’, Sabbath says ‘rest’.

So how do we keep the Sabbath holy in 2019? It’s not going to happen by accident. You’ve got to be deliberate and purposeful – aggressively breaking free from the grip of busyness. You can decide for yourself exactly what that looks like, but here are five suggestions:

1) Unplug. Human civilisation survived ten thousand years without phones. You can manage for a day – you’ll be amazed at how liberating it can feel! Ditto TV/Netflix.

2) Do something that makes your soul sing. Go for a walk. Read a book. Listen to your favourite music. Cook good food with good friends. Spend quality time (see point 1) with the people you love.

3) Buy nothing. Step off the consumer treadmill.

4) Be still. Embrace quietness. Pray. Meditate. Be.

5) Relax. Rest. Revel in being as unproductive as you can.

Heschel again: ‘The seventh day is an armistice in our struggle for existence. It is a truce in all conflicts, personal and social. It is the exodus from tension, and the liberation of humanity from our own muddiness.’ Sounds pretty good to me.

Gideon x