Sabbath Verbs

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 inspect.
to obey or comply with.
to perceive.
to notice.

~

To remember the Sabbath:

to recall,
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.

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3 thoughts on “Sabbath Verbs

  1. anne says:

    to await
    to abide
    to choose
    to open up to
    to allow
    to defer (until a non-sabbath time)
    to accept (or to decline—depending on whether you’re viewing the optin in or the opting out side of the equation)
    to opt
    to recoup

    gottat go now. my monday list is calling my name.

  2. to nurture
    to breathe
    to experience
    to drink in each moment

    And I second Anne’s nomination of “allow.”

  3. Bob Braxton says:

    don well-
    fitting
    habit

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