A Sabbath Exercise in Four Directions

by | Jun 13, 2018 | Ordinary, Reflections


A Guest Post by by Linda Yates


Face the North – hold your hands up in the air. In the north are bedrock and cold. The land of snow and ice comes down to visit us in our winter. Winter is a time of coziness, of creatures sleeping under snow, trusting in the spring, of seeds resting, their potential frozen, waiting. The North reminds us that when harsh winds blow, sometimes the best plan is to stop planning. Instead wrap yourself around with something warm and comforting. Stare into the fire and trust that spring will come. The North teaches us that we are hardy and need each other. In the deepest part of winter, Christians choose to remember the birth of Christ, a time when we gather, eat, sleep and sing. It is a time when we remember the past year and bring in a new one, hoping to love and be loved for one more twelve month span of mortality. Give thanks to the North for these times of cold Sabbath.


Face the South – hold your hands by your sides with the palms facing down. To Canadians, the South is a place of warmth and sunshine. The South reminds us that to simply sit in the sun is sometimes the best Sabbath. The light and heat of the sun brings fruit,, produce and lively music. Heat makes rapid movement difficult, so walks outside are slower.  We can therefore notice nature’s details: the scent of flowers, the texture of leaves, the movement of small creatures. When we walk sedately, we can listen deeply to our companions. We can truly hear them. When the sun shines intensely, we need water and can become thirsty. Cool drinks offered in friendship in places of shade become critical to life. For heat, sun and the potential of slow, easy days of daydreaming we give thanks. Give thanks to the South for these times of warm Sabbath.


Face the East  – bend your arms at your elbows and hold your hands upward toward the sky. The East is where the sun sneaks up over the edge of the world. We leave our dreams and wake to the world. The day is fresh with possibilities. We often take time to pause as the sun rises, to consider the day, sifting and sorting in our mind. Before we do that essential task, we can take a moment to give thanks for those who have kept it going for us in the night while we lay in our beds. We can envision those on the opposite side of the planet who are entering their beds in whatever form that takes for them. We are connected to each other by the sacred cord of life in God. We can take time to bless them in their dreaming.  Choose to believe that someone, somewhere is hoping our day will go well even as their day ends. We can rest, at least, in the knowledge that we are the beloved of God. God wishes us well as the day breaks. Rest in those wishes for moment. Take the time, for the day will bring its own concerns. We give thanks to the East for these times of morning Sabbath.


 Face the West – move your hands so they face each other. The West is where the sun sets. Soon the moon will rise and beds will be entered again. The evening is the time of resting after a day of activity and concerns. We settle in to some time of relaxing or perhaps even dozing. We read or watch or talk to others. Sometimes we sit upright in chairs resting our eyes before the big sleep. We can go over the day, forgiving ourselves for any disappointments, viewing ourselves with compassion. We can review the day, wrapping others in the same compassion. The world is made up of people trying to make it through their complex lives, all coming to their own evenings. Some of us sit with some sense of relief. Some rest for a moment in gratitude. All of us pause with some sense of things undone. Let God hold these worries for you. The setting of the sun means that your body and your mind need to be still so that organs and minds can be repaired, rejuvenated. Your soul needs to be reminded that you are beloved by God. You are loved, you are loving and you will love again.  We are made for this. The rising of the moon reminds us that we are safe in God’s hands while our bodies and mind take their unconscious, dreaming Sabbath. We give thanks to the West for these times of deep repair. We give thanks for Sabbath.


Holy One, of all directions. You are in our waking, our sleeping, our dreaming and our doing. Help us this summer to remember your gift of Sabbath. May we rest, recreate and take time to wonder. Then, refreshed, may we be your servants of love in our beautiful, troubled world. Amen.

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