This article is late. Technically it should have been sent out on 28th February or 1st March. And the reason why it wasn’t is this month’s topic.
Despite the fact that guilt tried to gnaw me raw I didn’t write it yesterday. I didn’t check my emails. I didn’t answer the phone. I didn’t go on Facebook or Twitter; I kept my mobile turned off; I didn’t update my website which was suddenly (again!) totally out of date. I worked all weekend so Monday was my Sabbath.
“Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy” is the fourth of the Ten Commandments. If we are of a similar age and upbringing, you’ll remember deeply boring Sunday mornings in Church and Sunday afternoons with absolutely nothing to do apart from (in term time) the dreaded homework.
Nowadays, of course, it’s different. You can do pretty much whatever you please on the Sabbath, whether it’s Saturday or Sunday or any other day off if you are working at the weekend.
But do you? Especially if you work for yourself or as a freelance? Or do you still open up the computer and deal with emails? Do you succumb to Facebook or Twitter addiction? Do you scorn the idea of keeping a day separate and sacred? Do you have good intentions but get ambushed by family, colleagues or friends? Does the dreaded Should bite your neck?
It’s not easy to celebrate a Sabbath. In the fast-paced world there’s always the Blackberry, the mobile and the Internet. But I’d suggest you try.
The idea is not about being bored. It’s not even about stopping you from going shopping or having fun; it’s about slowing down enough to be able to hear the Daughter of the Voice.
The Daughter of the Voice is one of the names for Shekhinah, the Presence of God, also known as the Feminine of God. This is the part of Divinity which touches our Higher Self and which gives birth to us and receives us back at death.
It’s often said that prayer is talking to God and meditation is listening to God and a Sabbath is a whole day where we are meant to slow down enough to be able to hear our intuition — the Still, Small Voice. It can tell us where we’re going right and where we are out of kilter. But it can’t compete with the noise of constant action.
I worked both days of the last two weekends and the first temptation was to say that I didn’t need time off was everything I was doing was delightful and inspirational. I’d done two workshops and taught at the Interfaith Seminary and had had a ball on every occasion. So my ego was fairly emphatic that more fun was not required; what WAS required was administration, banking, accounting, answering emails, writing etc. etc.
And other people can’t be expected to know you’re taking a day off either. The phone rang these last two Mondays just as much as it always does. It’s not easy to let it ring and challenging for my husband to have to answer it for me and tell someone with a pressing enquiry that I’m not available when I’m obviously doing very little.
And apart from that, defining a Sabbath is pretty tricky. In essence it’s meant to be about not doing what you do every other day. Ringing the changes.
Should I go shopping? Should I phone my mother? Should I do the washing? Should I clean out the chickens? Should I do something worthwhile instead of blogging in front of the TV? Was it defaming the Sabbath to be blogging in front of the TV? Should I cook? Should I take just that one phone call? Should I send just one email in case someone’s worrying? After all, I haven’t been on the Internet since Friday so checking emails would be okay wouldn’t it?
No, it wouldn’t. Because it would be succumbing to the demon of Should.
Maybe that’s it. The Sabbath is a day off from doing anything that we Should.
That’s going to be a tricky one I know but I think that’s just the point. Our life is run by so many unacknowledged Shoulds.
One of the things I love about the Jewish faith is that debate about the laws is encouraged so there can always be a lively discussion about what’s appropriate. Even if the discussion is only inside our own head.
One thing I do know for sure. If we don’t take time out for the Still Small Voice then we’ll never be free of the Shoulds or the Hows or the Urgents.
Yes, today when I logged onto the internet there were five emails saying “Please confirm you received this…” because I hadn’t replied in three days. But I know the answer to that now because it came to me easily and peacefully yesterday as I sat with my feet up, a beagle on my lap and a good book in my hands. I can put an “Enjoying a Day Off” out of office auto-reply on my emails for just that one day a week. I can put a message on the answerphone. I can own up to the fact that I take a Sabbath. For me and for God. And without that, I can’t deal with you guys half as well as I do.
So this month, take a Sabbath just for fun, once a week. If it’s too much to ask, I’d respectfully suggest that’s the root of practically ALL your prosperity issues in just one go.
Bless you and have a wonderful March.