How the Sabbath Breathes Life into the Earth 

Amidst life’s chaos and challenges, the simple act of breathing often becomes a lifeline—a reminder to inhale and exhale, a cue to remain present. Just as we rely on breath to sustain our existence, the Earth, our shared home, also requires its own form of respite. The unexpected silver lining of the global pandemic showcased this need, as satellites revealed a temporary cleansing of the world’s air. The significant reduction in global activities, including road travel, led to cleaner air and reduced pollution in various regions. The lesson is clear: just as we need to breathe, the Earth too requires moments of respite and restoration.

The Cycle of Rest and Renewal

Reflecting on the Earth’s need for rest and rejuvenation prompts us to ponder our own need for renewal. An ancient practice, dating back to the Jewish calendar, provides insight into this cycle of rest and restoration. The concept of Shmita, a sabbatical year, allowed the land in Israel to lie fallow every seventh year. This period of rest enabled the soil to recover its vitality, offering a parallel to the need for humans to pause and recharge. Beyond farming, Shmita also advocated for debt forgiveness, illustrating the interconnectedness of rest, community and wellbeing.

This idea of a recurring rest and renewal cycle is echoed in the Bible. In the first book of the Bible, Genesis, we see that when the world was created, God dedicated the seventh day to restoration—a time for humans to pause, reflect and recentre (see Genesis 2:2,3). This pattern established a rhythm of rest, providing a counterbalance to the demands of work and life.

The concept of a day of rest remains relevant in our modern world. Amidst the busyness and information overload, the need for intentional rest is evident. The seventh-day Sabbath offers tangible benefits for holistic wellbeing.

The Sabbath as a Gift

Sabbath is not just a cessation of work; it’s an opportunity for reflection, connection and restoration. Just as God dedicated the seventh day to rest, Jesus reaffirmed the significance of the Sabbath (see the Gospel of Mark, the second book in the New Testament: Mark 2:27, 28).

In a world driven by achievement and busyness, the Sabbath serves as an antidote to the pressures we face. It allows us to step back, reconnect and find gratitude in the simple joys of life. 

Restoring Ourselves and the Earth

Just as this world began with God breathing life into humanity, the concept of rest reminds us of the interconnectedness of all life. Embracing Sabbath is a way to reconnect with God Himself. It invites us to pause, be present and appreciate the world around us. Just as the Earth needs time to breathe and rejuvenate, so do we. In embracing this ancient practice, we restore ourselves, our communities and the environment. A pause in our demanding lives has the power to transform us and bring us closer to a sense of wholeness.

By embracing a day of rest, we align ourselves with God’s intention for a world in balance—a world where rest and renewal are integral to the cycle of life. 

Looking for a Sabbath-keeping community? Here’s where to find one near you

The original version of this article appeared in Signs of the Times.