The Scripture ~ Then Jesus said to them, “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath;” Mark 2:27a
The Spiritual Focus ~ “Sabbath is not simply the pause that refreshes, it is the pause that transforms.” Walter Brueggemann
Breath Prayer ~ Inhale, I Am ~ Exhale, refreshed and/or Inhale, I Am ~ Exhale, transformed
The Devotion ~
Sometimes it seems like it is in our DNA to oppose or obstruct anything that is law, anything that is a “must do.” We don’t like being told what to do, when to do it, how to do it, even when the why to do it makes sense and it has been that way since the beginning of time. For the most part, we do not like law being applied to us regardless of whether it could be good for us and possibly transform our life.
The background of our scripture is about sabbath as law. God gave a command to rest on the sabbath and we, in our attempt to adhere to the law, missed the intent. Jesus clears that up when he says, “Sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath.” In the background of this story Jesus allows his disciples to gather grain from a field on the sabbath which was considered work and, therefore, prohibited. He himself heals a man’s withered hand which, again, was considered work. Jesus’ acts on the sabbath followed the intent of the law, that is, both acts were life giving and transformative in nature.
Theologians, philosophers, psychologists and health professionals have written extensively on the benefits and strategies for practicing sabbath time. We even believe them, yet we still struggle to integrate and embody the practice of the sabbath into our everyday lives. Contemplative Franciscan Fr. Richard Rohr quotes Walter Brueggemann (above) when talking about setting aside sabbath time to become aware of God’s presence. He doesn’t offer as much strategy as reason for sabbath time but he does affirm contemplative practices as a way to experience God’s promised Presence. One of those practices is yoga.
In yoga our focus is to get to the breath, sometimes using postures, sometimes using pranayama alone in order to become aware of God’s presence. When we integrate a breath practice into our everyday life, we can have transformative sabbath experiences all the time and anywhere.