This time of year it is very easy to see nature beginning a Sabbath of sorts. The leaves are falling, some animals are preparing to hibernate, while birds begin their journey south. Many people see the winter as a time of hibernating too! At the same time, with all the fall and winter holidays approaching, it can become a very hectic, sometimes chaotic time for people. I greatly value the lessons I've learned when I am able to be still and quiet, in spite the frenetic pace that modern day living can result in.
One of my very favorite books of all time is Sabbath, by Wayne Muller. The following is one of my favorite passages from this book, although truth be told, it is one of those books in which I seem to have more pages dog-eared for being my favorite, than there are pages left straight.
Sabbath honors the necessary wisdom of dormancy. If certain plant species, for example, do not lie dormant for winter, they will not bear fruit in the spring. If this continues for more than a season, the plant begins to die. If dormancy continues to be prevented, the entire species will die. A period of rest--in which nutrition and fertility most readily coalesce--is not simply human psychological convenience; it is a spiritual and biological necessity. A lack of dormancy produces confusion and erosion in the life force.
We, too, must have a period in which we lie fallow, and restore our souls. In Sabbath time we remember to celebrate what is beautiful and sacred; we light candles, sing songs, tell stories, eat, nap, and make love. It is a time to let our work, our lands, our animals lie fallow, to be nourished and refreshed. Within this sanctuary, we become available to the insights and blessings of deep mindfulness that arise only in stillness and time. When we act from a place of deep rest, we are more capable of cultivating what the Buddhists would call right understanding, right action, and right effort. In a complex and unstable world, if we do not rest, if we do not surrender into some kind of Sabbath, how can we find our way, how can we hear the voices that tell us the right thing to do?
I just loved how this book examined the idea of Sabbath, the rhythm of work and rest, as practiced in many religions and cultures. The author provides ample justification for us all to take the time to just be. He also gives many practical examples of how to incorporate the idea of Sabbath into our everyday lives. Ultimately, he writes, we can be Sabbath for each other. What a beautiful thought. I hope you all find a way to rest and enjoy this wonderful time of year.