In the Lord of the Rings epic, JRR Tolkien brilliantly weaves in the practice of Sabbath in a number of ways. Often times this centers around food, the respite of a fire, and the sharing of stories together. Yet I think the clearest picture he presents of the Sabbath is Rivendell, the Elf homeland. It’s is a mythical place that Frodo and his friends had only heard distant stories about, and perhaps only ever dreamed that it existed.
The Fellowship of the Ring (a collection of Dwarfs, Men, Hobbits, and a Wizzard) was on the brink of exhaustion and death when they found a safe harbor in Rivendell. Upon their arrival, they rested, recovered, healed, ate, drank, and refilled their spirits. They had found peace. But Rivendell was never the destination of their journey. It was merely a place of rest to help them along in their journey. This time of rest gave them the opportunity to heal their wounds and regroup in order to continue towards their ultimate goal: Destroying the ring.
The quarantine we all find ourselves in might be our Rivendell, our Sabbath. The place we are visiting to encourage, rest, and rejuvenate us to return back to the work at hand.
The Sabbath is not a free-for-all cornucopia of delight and pleasures. It’s an intentional practice to celebrate that love wins. For 6 days, we work, sweat, and toil about in our lives … fighting off and pushing back death. On the 7th day, we are invited to rest and celebrate that death does not have the final say.
It’s easy to want normal back. What was normal was a known entity. We always do better with the known enemy as opposed to the unknown (sometimes, unnamed) enemy. We all have a common enemy in the virus and it’s effect on our society and lives. The rest, Sabbath, we are all participating in is centered around the virus. But what if the rest for us is bigger than that? Do you know what you need rest from, and for?
What if you need rest from how you were living your life before? Do you like who you were becoming? Do you know your purpose, why you are here on Earth? What is it that you hope to return to when, if, this is just a story we will tell our kids and grandkids?
As the late Mary Oliver so beautifully asked, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”