As many of you know, Sid and I spend a lot of time driving back and forth between our home in Maine and our apartment in Billerica. (Yes, we’re a bit crazy!) We do this in large part due to our love of our Ruach community and our prioritization of Shabbat worship at Ruach.
The result, however, in addition to tiredness (but a good tired) is that often when we come back on Friday, by the time we unpack and get ready for Shabbat, there are a lot of loose ends that we know we will need to address when the dust settles. Although we typically pick up the week’s worth of mail when we arrive, last Shabbat I grabbed it from our large mailbox just as we were getting into our car on Saturday morning to come to services.
There it was. This enormous stack of mail sitting on my lap just begging me to jump in and deal with. But as we drove to shul Sid was also telling me a very interesting saga about a recent challenge and his journey in dealing with it. I found myself so relaxed and engaged in his words. And I also noticed that if I let myself think about the mail, my stomach would knot slightly, pulse race a bit, and I definitely was not feeling as relaxed. You know how this goes: bills and stressful mail so typically come on Fridays when you can’t deal with them until Monday leaving you a bit unhinged on the weekend unless you don’t let yourself think about it. Even normal bills, themselves, are not what I would call relaxing!
I had noticed this same dynamic just the night before. I have a client in California, three hours earlier than our time here. I had already begun to feel the shalom of Shabbat around 6:00 our time when an email came in from my CA client. I could viscerally feel the change in my demeanor as I was being pulled away from Him. It is a real place with our Abba that we feel in our spirit when we enter into Shabbat. It is so true that our electronic devices are a detractor from this experience.
To engage in this way is not just about how we feel, nor about our covenant to keep Shabbat, which it strongly is. It is also about the importance of the time set apart to nurture our relationship with our Abba. It is about our taking the time to let Him know that we really understand that He is the center of our lives, to act on our beliefs, to live out the prayers we tell Him each day. It is the time to let Him know in no uncertain terms that this is the day when He is front and center with no distractions. And when we do so, He imparts to us a touch of the shalom that is eternally with Him, yom shekulo Shabbat. He reigns down a hint of it on us to let us feel its amazing peace.
Peace vs. angst. That is our choice on Shabbat. HaShem showed me that lesson so palpably by giving me the choice: listen to the engaging story being told by my sweet Sid and stay in the peace of Shabbat, or look at and/or open my mail which would drag me into the secular at best, or angst at worst. I can choose to deal with all of that on the other six days.
Thank you, HaShem, for the reminder and thank You for Shabbat.