Once a week, I receive a gift. The gift of Shabbat, the Sabbath.
Shabbat has such great potential. Sometimes, it's truly a day of rest, a day of prayer, a day of joyful study. Sometimes, we get caught up in the "must-do" activities and Shabbat gets swallowed up.
When the latter happens, I feel cheated. I feel that life becomes a never-ending cycle of rushing and running.
But when the former happens, when I get a chance to breathe, to rest, to celebrate Shabbat as I hope to each week, I feel refreshed and renewed.
It's not easy to stop the world and celebrate & revel in Shabbat. Many "traditional" or Orthodox Jews would in fact call my Shabbat a desecration even at its best. But for me, Shabbat is what you make of it.
Sometimes it's the simple things: lighting the candles, blessing my children, eating challah, sharing dinner with my family, smelling the spices at Havdalah. Sometimes it's spontaneous visits from friends or playdates that last all day. Sometimes it's a nice afternoon nap. Sometimes it's just turning off the phone or avoiding the computer all day. (Have you noticed that I don't post on Shabbat?)
Sometimes it's more complicated. Sometimes I officiate at Bar or Bat Mitzvah services. Sometimes (rarely these days, but hopefully more soon) we celebrate with other families, creating an atmosphere of true celebration with a meal and sharing of our lives. Sometimes we do something fun that we've planned in advance -- a trip to the zoo, the museum, or even a walk through the park or (in the winter), the mall.
As my children get older, I do hope that our Shabbat will include regular attendance at worship services, both in the evening and morning. I know that in our world, this may not be possible each week. But to make space, to carve out that period each week for rest and rejuvenation, is so important to me...and to all of us. I will strive to make it so.
Shabbat is, as Abraham Joshua Heschel taught, "a cathedral in time." It is truly my favorite day of every week, even when I don't celebrate exactly as I want to...because each week, Shabbat holds the potential for perfection. Each week, another opportunity to do it again.
What a blessing it is.
Written as part of Scribbit's December Write-Away Contest "My Favorite Day".