Over a portico of the Chartres Cathedral, there is a relief sculpture of the days of creation. To the far right is the image of God, head resting in hands, facial features weary. Yet God is clearly pleased with all that had been accomplished. It is the seventh day of creation: God rested.
Whatever happened to Sabbath time? Whatever happened to the rhythm of the week, the sense of leisure, the change of pace, the time for others, the time for God? Is that just one more nostalgic question about a way of life long past? Or, given the exigencies of every age, perhaps the question of Sabbath time is a fresh invitation to reclaim a human rhythm in imitation of the divine.
A few years ago, the journalist Cokie Roberts was answering questions from the audience after a talk at the Missouri History Museum. “What’s your favorite Sunday morning talk show?” she was asked. “Mass,” she replied, much to the surprise and amusement of the overflow crowd. Cokie was not being clever; she was being consistent. All her colleagues at ABC and PBS knew better than to call her on Sunday unless a truly urgent event required her presence. Sunday family dinner was sacrosanct in the Roberts household. Sabbath time was a priority.
This all reminds me of a provocative line in the play A Thousand Clowns: “You gotta know what day it is. . . . You gotta own your days and name ’em . . . or else the years go right by and none of them belong to you.” Maybe it’s time to reconsider God’s example, to own our days and name them, to reclaim Sabbath time.