Saturday, February 22, 2014

Sabbath Practices to Restore the Cosmos

While reading some insightful blog posts, I came across Rabbi Rachel Barenblat's wonderful post on why/how our Sabbath practices restore order and wholeness to the world.  She goes even further to suggest that our Sabbath practices actually heal the world.

She explains, "What does it mean to say that 'Shabbat is a transformation inside of God in which we are actors'? Perhaps this: God experiences brokenness and separation, because we, God's creation, experience brokenness and separation. But on Shabbat, we create wholeness in ourselves -- and in so doing, we create wholeness inside God. Another way to frame it is through kabbalistic language: when we observe Shabbat, we enable God's transcendence (distant, far-off, high-up, infinite, inconceivable) and God's immanence (embodied, here with us, as near as the beating of our own hearts, relational, accessible) to unite."

She then talks about some of the practices that can help us create wholeness and she gives an interesting overview of our various levels of the soul.

She concludes this way:

"But I understand that piece of Talmudic wisdom in this way:  if we truly experience the day of Shabbat, we can experience a taste of the messianic era.

Of course, in order for that to happen, we have to make the time to enter into Shabbat. To stop doing and simply be.

We have to be willing to let Shabbat change us.

We have to be paying attention.

Shabbat, and that extra soul, arrive whether or not we notice. But if we can be mindful tonight as sundown falls -- how might the windows of our hearts be opened? With the eyes of that new soul, what might we see?"

I am not Jewish, so I come at these ideas from a different angle.  Her post makes me wonder if we could strive for this level of Sabbath awareness on more than just the day we've chosen to make our Sabbath.

It also makes me wonder about the role of the worship service in her ideas, especially for those of us who have leadership roles in the worship service.  It's hard to follow her advice to "stop doing and simply be" when we have to get to church early, attend to set up, and do the things that must be done during the service.  I often find that Sunday mornings can feel more busy and rushed than any work day.  It's not uncommon for me to come home from church drained and too exhausted to do anything but collapse in a heap.

It's hard to imagine that I'm restoring order to the cosmos in that way.

1 comment:

rbarenblat said...

So glad you enjoyed the post!

And I hear you about the challenge of experiencing this kind of Sabbath headspace when one is responsible for setting up, or leading a service, or what-have-you. It is easy for the day of rest not to feel very restful for we who serve.