Stop for a few moments and think about where you live. What places and spaces come to mind? When I asked some friends this, some of the answers shared were: in the kitchen, in the bedroom, on the lanai, on the road, in the garden, at the shelter, at work. These are all functional answers of how we understand where we live: we do things in each of these places and they each places defined, in part, by what we do in and on them.
Because so many of us are trained as consumers, we are living primarily in a world constructed by how we use it. What is not used is considered of less worth and may not even be in our awareness. Sabbath invites us out of living using the world as though the earth were some kind of vending machine, because we’re not engaged in the every day living measured and evaluated by doing, using, and producing.
Instead, Sabbath changes up our awareness and appreciation with the prohibitions on not making and doing. Now I’m pretty loose with that in my own practice – knitting for me is okay because it isn’t my livelihood and it is restorative; chatting away through my professional social media accounts is not okay, because that’s part of the work I produce. I notice the difference in how I approach life. On Sabbath, I try to let go of the activities that keep me in a productive state of being.
When I ask myself where I live during the rest of the week, I am just as likely as my friends to answer particular places defined by their functions – and to add feeling states like anxiety and production practices like study. But on Sabbath, when I ask myself where I live I have reliably different answers, reflecting my Sabbath awareness: gratitude, wonder, reverence, rest, surprise, contentment, and awe. The moonlight changing to sunlight on my skin, the shift from night flowers like jasmine to day flowers like frangipani, the change from scheduled and measured days to sudden spaciousness all invite me back to that amazing sense of connection with all of life. I’m then no longer living defined by what I am doing, but dwelling in the holy presence of this present moment.