Wayne Muller shares a simple, yet forgotten,
practice to maintain spiritual fitness: the Sabbath. Below are excerpts from
Wayne Muller's Sabbath Article.
We Have Forgotten The Sabbath
Sabbath time is a revolutionary challenge to the violence
of overwork, because it honors the necessary wisdom of dormancy. If certain plant species
do not lie dormant during winter, the plant begins to die off. Rest is not just a
psychological convenience; it is a spiritual and biological necessity. Perhaps this is
why, in most spiritual traditions, "Remember the Sabbath" is more than simply a
lifestyle suggestion. It is a commandment, an ethical precept as serious as prohibitions
against killing, stealing and lying. How can forgetting the Sabbath -- forgetting to be
restful, sing songs and find nourishment and delight--possibly be morally and socially
Plea For A Renewed Sabbath
...I make a plea for renewed Sabbath-keeping. As a nation,
we cannot live like this, endlessly rushing about in a desperate frenzy, never stopping to
enjoy the blessings of family and friends, unable to taste the fruits of life. We can
change society by beginning a quiet revolution of change in ourselves and our families.
Let us take a collective breath, rest, pray, meditate, walk, sing, eat and take time to
share the unhurried company of those we love. Let us, for just one day, cease our
desperate striving for more, and instead taste the blessings we have already been given,
and give thanks. Religious traditions agree on this: God does not want us to be exhausted;
God wants us to be happy. And so let us remember the Sabbath.
Practices for a Simple Sabbath
Light a candle.
Set aside sacred time for a family meal, for prayer or meditation or simply quiet reading.
Set a candle before you, offer a simple blessing and let the world fall away.
Give thanks before meals, upon rising, when going to sleep. During Sabbath, we are less
concerned with what is missing and more grateful for what has already been given.
Bless your children.
Place your hand gently on their heads and offer your blessing. What do you most wish for
them? Self-knowledge, courage, safety, joy? Let them hear your prayers for their
Invite a Sabbath pause.
Choose one common act -- touching a doorknob, turning on a faucet or hearing the phone
ring. Throughout the day when this occurs, stop and take three silent, mindful breaths.
Then go on.
Take a walk.
Stroll slowly to nowhere in particular for 30 minutes. Let your senses guide you. Stop and
observe deeply whatever attracts you -- a tree, a stone, a flower. Breathe.
Pamper your body.
Take a guilt-free nap. Take a leisurely bath with music, special scents, candles. Make
love with your spouse. Walk barefoot in the grass. The Sabbath is a day of delight.
Create a Sabbath box.
Put your to-do list, your keys, your wallet -- anything you don't need in Sabbath time --
into the box. Or write down a particular worry or concern and drop it in. Just for now,
let it go.
Turn off the telephone.
Or the computer, the TV, the washer and dryer. Create a period of time when you will not
be disturbed or seduced by what our technologies demand of us.
Prepare a Sabbath meal -- or a Sabbath cup of tea.
Even if you are alone, you can choose foods you love, put flowers on the table, take time
to enjoy every dish, give thanks for the bounty of the earth.
One of the most precious gifts we can offer is to be a place of refuge, a Sabbath for one
another. Ask for companionship when you lose your way. Give quiet time and attention to
Reset your inner compass.
Make a list of the values and principles that guide your life -- both those you follow and
those you would like to follow. Speak them aloud, alone or with loved ones.
Surrender a problem.
The Sabbath reminds us that forces larger than ourselves are at work healing the world.
Imagine that these forces already know how to solve your problem. Turn it over to their
Adapted from Sabbath: Remembering the Sacred Rhythm of Rest and
Delight, by Wayne Muller. Copyright 1999 by Wayne Muller. Bantam Books, a division of
Random House Inc.