3. any special day of prayer or rest resembling the Sabbath.
4. (sometimes lowercase) a period of rest.
Sometimes a sabbath day of rest doesn’t fall on a Sunday. Today felt like a sabbath for me even though it held no formal worship, no refraining from certain activities, no feasting. What it did contain was a quiet morning, time to read my current novel, time to talk to a loved one, work on an early Christmas present, a walk alone with my middle daughter (who actually held my hand during the walk!), a bit of quiet reflection spent on my Bible study, a roasted chicken and football on TV. It might not sound like your sabbath, but it was exactly what my soul needed.
My husband actually attended the Vanderbilt game alone tonight because when I wanted to stay home and just relax, the girls all wanted to stay here, too. They spent their evening eating dinner outside, sitting on the sidewalk chatting, playing together and then reading Halloween books aloud together. Their own sabbath, perhaps.
One reason this day felt like a sabbath was that it had a rhythm of my choosing. The only two time commitments were either handled by J (driving A to serve with a group) or skipped out on (the Vandy game). It's not that I didn't do some work (the word sabbath derives from the Hebrew word shabbath, which means "to rest from labor"): I spent time on a computer project, prepared and roasted a chicken, then made broth for tomorrow's chicken noodle soup. But the pace was slow, the activities were pleasant and I find myself feeling rested at the end of a day instead of exhausted.
The interesting part of all of this is that experiencing a sabbath rest requires that I do something in order to rest. Several things, in fact. It requires that I know I need rest, that I choose to meet this need and that I say no to other good things in order to get the rest. This may sound easy, but if you've ever attempted to observe a regular sabbath, you will know it is no easy task in this world we live in. We are encouraged to do more, make more, consume more, but we are never encouraged to rest more.
A few years ago I read Mark Buchanan's The Rest of God. I loved the straightforward approach Buchanan took to explaining the various components of sabbath, followed by practical suggestions for how to take steps towards sabbath in your own life. A few concepts have stuck with me in the years since I last read the book: I try to refrain from housework on Sundays (although I still cook) and I try to make sure we eat dessert on Sunday (it being a feast day). Everything else he said? I don't think I retained it. I certainly didn't apply it.
But every now and then my soul cries out for some sabbath rest. From where I sit, I can see another book about sabbath on our library bookshelf. I need to make time to read it when I finish the novel in progress. And I need to remember the way a sabbath can make me feel - the way I feel right now: content, satisfied, rested. Because sabbath was designed as a gift from God to us. A gift that was not meant to sit unopened.