Sabbath on Monday

Walking on Lake Louise

Walking on Lake Louise

How do you react to the word “sabbath”?

Does your stomach clench, like it does in response to all words religious? Do you envision thin-lipped matrons in darkened parlours piously whiling away an afternoon with the book of Genesis?

Or do you relax and breathe easily? Do you picture yourself curled up with a good book in front of a fireplace?

I hope it’s the latter.

I want to reclaim the word “sabbath”. Years of  “shoulds,” guilt, judgemental recriminations and self-deprivation crust over this beautiful word with corrosive layers. I want to scrape away the damage and polish the word to a renewed welcoming shine, because sometimes we just need a break. The ancient practice of sabbath has roots in the practical idea that, in order to exhale, we have to inhale sometimes.

I took a sabbath day—a day to inhale—on Monday. These days it doesn’t matter which day you choose.

We are on vacation at beautiful Lake Louise, Alberta enjoying a week of skiing in the Rockies. Perfect sun, perfect snow, breathtaking scenery and Albertan hospitality surround us. I skied happily Saturday and Sunday. Yesterday, while my son and husband skied the black diamond bump runs they love so much, I took a sabbath day. I read. I wrote. I relaxed. I created heaven for myself.

My husband didn’t get it at all. He’s an intense skier, so his sabbath is on the ski hill.

In our modern times, a sabbath day is more important than ever. When was the last time you allowed yourself an entire day of rest? We are connected, always “on,” busy with “stuff” every single day. We are so busy exhaling, we forget to inhale. And there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all sabbath. For me, it’s a quiet day and a good book. For my husband, it’s a sunny ski run. For others it might be a walk in the forest, dinner with family, or a fishing trip.

Play, eat, or meditate, However, sabbath looks to you, I encourage you to reclaim an ancient practice that fulfills the universal need for a mindful indrawn breath.

2 thoughts on “Sabbath on Monday

  1. Joanne

    Arlene, I completely understand this sentiment. While you are in the Albertan mountains, I am in the White Mountains, in New Hampshire. Although I don’t ski, the beauty of the mountains and the general scenery have put me in this absolute state of relaxation. I have taken this time, to relax completely, read, or just sit and enjoy the view.


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