sabbath, shabbot, and also i am a library nerd


Two weeks ago, I was sitting in the parking lot of the post office when I got a message that my Interlibrary Loan had arrived. I was two minutes away from said library, and I got there to pick up my book before they had even processed that sucker.

Do you know what Interlibrary Loan is? It’s this amazing thing where if your library doesn’t have a book, you can ask them to borrow it from another library far away—and they do! One way I measure my level of curiosity about something is how many books I’ve checked out. When I cross over into Interlibrary Loan territory, I know I’ve truly tripped the nerd switch. And there I was, standing at the information desk, utterly delighted, as they processed my Interlibrary Loan treasure, a book that came all the way from Hickory, North Carolina especially for me.

Sabbath, by Wayne Muller.

I’m laughing.

Not in a million years did I think I would be so utterly delighted to be handed a book with that title.

And yet here I am. I am deeply engrossed in the idea of Sabbath, of Shabbot, reading my brains out about it in bits and pieces, stolen moments here and there. Wondering about its power and possibility now--for the religious and nonreligious alike. Touched by the parallels in all of nature.

And as I am voraciously reading about Shabbot, I am working almost nonstop. Things have piled up and intersected in a way that have me sitting at my laptop, poring over budget spreadsheets and grant guidelines and word counts and drafts of new job descriptions, as I hear my daughter running in and out of the house, opening into the rhythm of summer with her dad or our friends or our larger family or her soccer ball. 

This adjacency of my Shabbot obsession and my near-constant work feels less strange that you might imagine. I think: Of course. And also: Thank goodness.

For the better part of a year, I've been working intensely in my professional life and in my personal life. I don't think it's any accident that the idea of rhythmic rest and renewal is knocking at my door. My reading is giving me hope and helping me design my next seasons with that rest and renewal rhythm in mind.

I’ve seen lots of online writing over the years hollering that just reading about something isn’t worth a lick. You have to actually do something about it, they say, whether it’s decluttering or starting your own business or running a 5K. And that’s cool.

But I’ve noticed that reading obsessively about something—even when I’m not ready to shift anything yet—often starts to work on its own. Opening the way, just a little.

Last night at supper, I paid attention to how my food tasted. I noticed that my husband was extra tired. I saw that my daughter would feel better with a just a little bit of mama-daughter coloring before bed. I gave over to those things, instead of running a ticker tape of This Project and That Deadline and What I Need To Do About This Other Thing in my mind.

And that felt like just the tiniest bit of rest and renewal, without even trying.