Posted by: jevcat | February 6, 2011

Sabbath Rest

O Sabbath rest by Galilee!  O calm of hills above,

where Jesus knelt to share with thee

the silence of eternity

interpreted by love.

Photo by Roger Bingler









One of my friends’ standard reaction to anything at all surprising or unexpected was to open wide her kohl-rimmed blue eyes, fling her hand to her heart, and dramatically gasp, “Dear Lord and father of mankind!”  She was a large, flamboyant woman who favored loose garments, flowing scarves, chunky jewelry, and bright red lipstick, and no matter how often I saw this reaction, it never failed to amuse me, and thinking of it, and her, still make me smile, although she’s been dead quite a few years now.

That phrase is also the start and title of a poem used for one of my favorite hymns.  It was also one of my mother’s, and she used to often use all or part of it for meditation, on her own or when leading groups in meditation or prayer.  I’ve found myself humming it a lot lately.

Between fierce winter weather, deadline pressure for freelance work, and my Beloved’s assorted chronic physical issues, we haven’t made it to church many Sundays recently and, while I miss the ritual and community, there is also something valuable in a peaceful day at home.  The ritual of setting aside regular “sacred time” is important, but so is grabbing those other moments that may present themselves.  Sabbath can be experienced in more ways than one, but at the heart of it are quiet and God.

Sabbath is about rest, about taking time and stepping back to see what we have been given, appreciate it, and honor the giver.  It’s about breath and breathing and breathing space.  Americans tend to not recognize – or not want to recognize – that we need this down time – even our leisure tends to be hectic.  And the intensity of life is not always of our own doing, as those of us caught up in the “Great Recession” can attest; sometimes, as the last couple of weeks in our household, things just seem to come in waves, and all we can do is grab a breath when we can, try to stay afloat, and remember that at the eye of the storm there is silence that speaks of presence, not absence.


Dear Lord and Father of mankind, forgive our foolish ways!

Reclothe us in our rightful mind,

in purer lives thy service find,

in deeper reverence praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard, beside the Syrian sea,

the gracious calling of the Lord,

let us, like them, without a word,

rise up and follow thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee!  O calm of hills above,

where Jesus knelt to share with thee

the silence of eternity

interpreted by love.

Drop thy still dews of quietness, till all our strivings cease;

take from our souls the strain and stress

and let our ordered lives confess

the beauty of the peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire thy coolness and thy balm;

let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;

speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,

O still, small voice of calm.

(Hymnal 1982, words:  John Greenleaf Whittier)

(This isn’t the tune I am familiar with, but I like it anyway.)



  1. Janet–
    a beautiful, prayerful post this Sunday. Thank you for your words!
    I loved this: “and remember that at the eye of the storm there is silence that speaks of presence, not absence”
    blessings on your Sabbath. May you find rest!

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