Whilst I wait on my laundry to finish, let me tell you about another highlight from last Friday. Most things in the Jewish areas of Jerusalem start to close down around 2pm for Shabbat (Sabbath). Shabbat is from sun down on Friday until sun down on Saturday. As I left the Old City on Friday evening lots of Jewish families, dressed in their Friday best, where heading to the Western Wall to pray and celebrate. I wish I had headed down to join them but I didn’t want to miss my Shabbat dinner! I might do it this Shabbat.
The woman of the house usually lights the candles, the man of the house prays and a toast with wine is made – well that is what I gathered. Then you eat the most amazing food you ever tasted! I have no idea what most of what I ate was, but it was epic. Apologies for the crappy picture but it tasted so much better than my photos looked.
Everything is closed from 2pm ish on Fridays until sundown on Saturdays. Instead of shopping, people spend time together, no work or chores are done – It is a space to be instead if do.
It has been a such a busy week getting familiar with a new culture, meeting new people and visiting places oozing with significance. So tomorrow I am going to take an extra long Shabbat to catch up on what I’ve done this week, to sleep and to rest.
For a while now I’ve been trying to set aside Saturdays as my day to rest, recharge, have fun, spend time doing what I love and to spend time with God. A time to be. I’ve had varying levels of success with this, but the more I do it, the more I realise how much I need it. Israel is teaching me more about how look after the soul.
In preparation for this trip I went to a shopping-centre-which-must-not-be-named on a Sunday before I left. Something I don’t normally do because I spend Sundays with my family. It was stressful and not something that I want make a regular thing. Not out of some hyper religious reason, but because it doesn’t help me be the best version of me.
I am more than flesh and blood. You can’t see the part of me on an xray that loves to bake, that loves searching secondhand bookshops for Agatha Christie novels and that loves to hide a wireless doorbell in my work colleagues office and to ring it periodically.
Shabbat/Sabbath is the way to nurture that person, to find out more about who I am made to be and more about the One who made me.
It would be great if you join me in exploring what a true day of rest could look like and I would love to hear about those things that make you feel alive.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Jesus, Matthew 11, The Message.