The Kingdom of God means peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, … Our Lord will visit the devout with His consolations, if they will make room for Him in the depths of their hearts. This is where He desires to be, and He will bring them many graces and much peace, and the sublime intimacy of His presence.
(Thomas ‘a Kempis, The Imitation of Christ, newly ed. Clare L. Fitzpatrick)
A South American tribe went on a long march, one that lasted for days. Suddenly, they would stop walking, sit and rest for a while. There, they would make camp for a couple of days. Then, they would begin walking again. The need to rest so that their souls could catch up with them was their explanation for this custom.
What is Sabbath? Sabbath is not simply duration of time for rest. Sabbath is time and space filled with openness to and awareness of Wonderful Presence. Sabbath, indeed, is devoid of duration. Sabbath is rest outside time. Therefore, Sabbath as I speak of it is not a day set aside, be it Saturday or Sunday, or another day. Sabbath pertains to a quality of experience that we can enjoy any day, any moment.
When can we observe Sabbath? The principle of Sabbath within the Gospel Way frees us from the essentiality of having a twenty-four hour time set aside for Sabbath. For some persons, a twenty-four hour Sabbath weekly or monthly might work very well. Sabbath, however, can be fit into our lives, dependent on circumstances and in a way that disciplines us but is workable for our present life situation. Sabbath can include a yearly retreat; a monthly retreat; a day each week; daily times for prayer, meditation, and sacred reading; …
I have a friend who was caregiver for her homebound husband during the weeks prior to his passing on. Likewise, she was helping care for her ailing mother. She had taken my contemplative prayer classes. She was devoted to the practice. During those weeks, she informed me, she had short periods of prayer, as she was able, for her time was taken with the priority of caring for her husband. Sabbath observance for this friend was short periods of Silence and Meditation, strung among the demanding responsibilities of being a caregiver.
So, when can we observe Sabbath? Anytime. However, we need the discipline of setting times apart and keeping those set times, unless circumstances make such impossible.
What is the Blessing of Sabbath? Henri J. M. Nouwen teaches us that “discipline is the creation of boundaries that keep time and space open for God.” Solitude, worship, and caring for others, Nouwen writes, call for us to set apart a time and place for awareness of and response to “God’s gracious presence.” (Bread for the Journey). This gracious presence offers, writes ‘A Kempis, “the sublime intimacy of His presence.”
1. When do you observe Sabbath?
2. What specific places heighten your sense of the Presence of God?
3. What practices do you find helpful in observing Sabbath?
“My dear friend, you are harried and hurried, and you run hither and thither. How you soon forget me. How soon you forget to trust me, so that you can pace yourself, breathe naturally, and appreciate the world around you. Remember, I invited you, ‘Come to me, I will give you rest.’ If you will slow down and experience each moment fully, you will be healthier and more joyful. I am not asking for your time because I am putting another rule on you. Time with me is not about rule keeping. Time with me is not to gain my love. I would love you completely, even if you never spent another moment with me. I am asking for your time because I love you, and I want you to enjoy life and our sharing intimately together. I do love you.” Christ
Brian's book of mystical love poetry,
An Ache for Union, can be ordered through major bookdealers.
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors
The People of the
United Methodist Church