Last week I was talking to some folks about the different verbs that I’ve heard associated with the act of Sabbath. I spent a little time this morning with my imagination (and with dictionary.com) exploring some of these words. I wonder which verb sounds most gracious to you. Which one opens up a different understanding? What verbs would you add? Whether you’re into Sabbath practice or not, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.
What I notice is how active and volitional these verbs are for something that is, at its heart, a “non-doing.” But I am finding this year that it is not that simple—it’s not just a matter of stopping. It really takes an act of will.
This isn’t a particularly elegant poem, but I’m counting it as one anyway for National Poetry Month.
To keep the Sabbath:
to clutch it,
to possess it,
to hold it close to one’s heart.
to not let anyone take it away.
to hold it for a period of time.
to guard it jealously.
to store it,
to maintain it in good condition.
to hold in custody,
to save it, reserve it.
to tend it, as a garden.
(to work for one’s keep: for one’s subsistence)
A keep is also a tower or fortress.
Make the Sabbath a keep,
a place to retreat to,
a place that is strong and fortified,
a place in time.
To observe the Sabbath:
to watch it,
to regard it,
to pay attention to it.
to show reverence for it,
to perform duly.
to obey or comply with.
To remember the Sabbath:
to bring to mind,
to remain aware of,
to have something come into mind again,
(to mention to another as sending kindly greetings—remember me in your prayers)
to re-member: to put back together what has been dismembered.
To practice Sabbath:
to do it again and again,
to perfect one’s technique,
to set new goals as one improves.
to do something as a habit,
to train or drill to give proficiency.
to follow as custom.
to exercise or pursue as a vocation.