Sabbath Rest

The dullness of the English Sunday of my youth is with me still, especially the long, dull afternoons when nothing ever happened save the arrival of tediously dull guests for equally dull tea and even duller conversation. It was only as I grew older that I began to appreciate that Sunday emptiness as an opportunity to experience sabbath rest — a time out of time, as it were, linking the present with eternity. As such, it took on a richer, deeper meaning: not emptiness but fullness, joy not ennui. At the same time it was borne on me that sabbath rest implies much more than not doing. The monastic liturgy is at its most elaborate and demanding on Sundays, of course, and the personal commitment to prayer and reading is greater than on other days, but at the heart of it all is the invitation to live the Resurrection here and now. We do indeed rest: from sin, from arrogance, from selfishness, from whatever chokes the divine life within us. At the same time we act, or rather, we allow God to act powerfully within us. If we have no other time during the week, at least on Sundays we can make space for God in our lives and let him Easter within us. That is the true sabbath rest, the rest of eternity.

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