Until now, I have been thinking of my stay-at-home time as living in a liminal space – the space between leaving behind what no longer is and not yet knowing what is to come. While these threshold experiences are sometimes uncomfortable for me, they are not unfamiliar. After reading Norman Wirzba’s description of sabbath time (Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating, 2019, 85-89), I am reconsidering the whole notion of Sabbath. Wirzba is describing the importance of place (and land) in a person’s life, yet I find that sabbath time can be generalized for those of us who may not be gardeners or farmers.
Wirzba believes that, in the Creation story in Genesis, the climax of God’s creative work is not the creation of humanity, but the experience of Sabbath. Sabbath is not an optional reprieve in the midst of an otherwise frantic or obsessive life. It is the goal of all existence because in the Sabbath, creation becomes what it fully ought to be. It is an invitation to paradise understood as genuine delight. In Sabbath experience, the deep meaning of creation is revealed as the freedom of each creature to realize its God-given potential, and in that freedom to offer its worship back to God.
Again, quoting Wirzba, God’s rest has nothing to do with fatigue, as if God could become tired of creative work. Rather, it has to do with the intense joy and peace, the supreme delight and contentment that followed from God’s life-giving work. When we think of Sabbath, we tend to think in terms of needing a break, or wanting a time to escape from our harried lives. But, we can reconsider rest as God’s complete entrance into life, and as God’s joy in the beauty and goodness that is there. God rests because there is no other place God would rather be. God rests because the place where God is, is the place of God’s love and concern and work, and there simply is no other place worth going to.
For sabbath time to be possible, we must give up the restless search for a more lucrative world and more agreeable friends, and instead embrace the places and communities that have been given us as the concrete manifestations of God’s love. I realize now that I have crossed the threshold from my liminal space to sabbath time. Although my days are much quieter now that I have retired, I am not escaping from a frantic and obsessive life, nor am I simply waiting for something to happen. I am resting in a place of joy and peace, and delighting in my blessings.