The Sabbath is perpetual. It is the silence underlying every moment of our lives, the silence of Awareness itself, at rest in its own pure space.
Perhaps the seven days of creation described in Genesis 1 are not seven consecutive periods of time, but seven frequencies of energy enveloping each other in layers whose center and core is the zero-point vacuum of pure silence, which is the mind of God.
Each successive valence shell of energy is more grossly condensed than the one inside it. Yet all the inner frequencies pervade the grosser husk, as dissolved sugar pervades sap, and sap pervades the flower. The gross external layer of energy is what we perceive as the physical earth: but its present density was never intended. This density of physical matter is symbolized by the animal skin coat put on by Adam and Eve after their fall from grace.
Creator intends us to live in a more ethereal earth, a plane of energy that is at once sensuous yet responsive to our goodwill. In the original innocence of Eden, work, struggle, and competition are never necessary, for our needs are supplied by mere intention without tools or intervening technologies. Through the mere power of the word and the intention of the will, humans could design their environment. This is symbolized in the story by Adam's ability to name the creatures. As God creates through the subtle power of the Word, so humans could re-create the world through that same power. But this covenant between our intention and the material world is only valid as long as our will is suspended in the grace of God, conforming to the will of Nature. We broke this covenant, and the breaking of it affected even the laws of physics.
Self-will, directed toward pleasing independent ego rather than community, made our earth dense. The density of matter directly resulted from our shame. Shame is the consequence of living for the ego.
How can we restore the earth to the state of Eden, where matter is subtle, radiant and responsive to positive intention? The new earth will never manifest through technological achievement or political policy alone. This work requires the refinement of our consciousness. Science and political action must be supplemented by practices of meditation and healing breath.
Genesis, chapter one, is not a model for "creation science," but for earth-centered consciousness. Before creation, there is silence. The Biblical term, tohu wa bohu means formless and void. It describes the abstract vacuum of energy which modern physics reveals to be the source of matter. This living emptiness is pure consciousness. Out of the depths of this divine mind, all the layers or days of creation manifest as sovereign acts of intention, words of God. Creation ex nihilo means that matter is produced from pre-existent consciousness. Consciousness is not produced by the interaction of pre-existent material particles.
After the sixth day, God rests. This is called Sabbath. In Hebrew, Sabbath means stop. This indicates that a field of restful silence surrounds creation, burnishes and finishes it, just as silence lies at creation's source. Before the first day of creation, silence, formless and void. After the last day of creation, silence, conscious and restful. The universe is permeated and enveloped by the Sabbath rest.
Every moment of our daily experience in suspended like a dissolving drop of sugar in restful silence. Effusing the silence of creation's source into manifest experience is the purpose of our life on earth. Eternal rest underlies each moment of activity.
Creation is always all finished. So be at rest in the stillness of God all day, every day of the week. Wherever you are, whatever you do, bathe in the completed fullness of divine silence, ever present in the depths of you, as awareness itself.
"My work is loving the world,
here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird...
Let me keep my mind on what matters...
standing still and learning to be
astonished..... " (Mary Oliver)
Stand by the edge of any American wet-land. You'll see on some naked branch a black hole in the sky. From that dense and tiny darkness, a carillon on scarlet wings, scalding-bright as liquid brass, calls you back to the original moment. The world was made of such molten dark and jubilation from the bell of emptiness. Across the marsh, other glorious ringing towers condense in dots of singular wildness. What is your role, man, in such a perfect world? Learn the secret of the red-wing blackbird: from emptiness, music...
Only the human intellect, ever-restless and unsatisfied, could conceive that we were born for any higher purpose than this:
To listen, to awaken and be grateful, to become a silence for the song.
Just as she was turning the wine glass from last night's party in her wet hand to check for bubbles of detergent, she heard a thud at the window and looked up to see the warm October sun on the grass, the last red geranium hanging from its basket at the fence, and the calm enfolding branches of the maple in her neighbors yard. All was quiet.
Then it fell. It had thudded in flight against the windowpane in the bedroom above -- not against this window. It must have paused in a surprise so marvelous that, for a moment, the ominous necessity of nature was suspended and the weightless dream we all share was realized. Then it fell.
She saw it drop like a stone and disappear beneath the windowsill. Her glance focussed again on the wine glass in the running stream of warm water, and there was the old pull of duty, another kind of gravity that moves us always to task. So many more dishes to do...
Then there was another pull, toward lightness and pause. She paused in her task to think of the one who had fallen. Something drew her into the October morning and the grass and all the expanding air, with a rising in her breast that had no part of duty nor sense of task but sympathy with the sky.
Turning off the faucet, she walked with wet hands to the door of the patio, opened it and stepped into the sunlight. At the edge of the patio she leaned on the rail and looked down. It was lying on its back in the grass, its wings unfurled generously, as if in their embrace they could grasp the whole possibility of the morning sun. Its white breast, full and round, was moving with slow luxurious breaths unlabored.
She studied the sparrow's breathing and, without any conscious control, attuned her own breath to that rhythm. Slowly, more slowly, until each breath forgot the last and all the life before it, they breathed in a synchrony that had nothing to do with time. Time was all contained in the last slight ruffle of the sparrow's belly, unswelling its weight into formless daylight. The stillness lasted and settled, a stillness settling upon the whole lawn, the rolling quilt of lawns and pastures all the way to wild distant mountains, stillness lasting weightlessly upon her world in the long settled breath of the sparrow's belly. It was a new kind of stillness settling in her own belly, a gift.
Yet not the last. Out of the majesty of that stillness there arose a final movement, intentional, gratuitous and bold: the movement of one breath taken freely by that which has already given life away, but chooses for the last time to feel the touch of air in the nostrils and the individuated flutter of all capillaries, the action of each cell exchanging what is old for what is new in a trillion images of exaltation, within and within and deep within, until the final particle of incarnation is nourished, fulfilled, and finally dissolved into the energy from which it came. Then the sparrow gave it back. Even more slowly and consciously than she had inspired, she expired. Death was this luxury, at last. It was no small gift, but a majestic gift of the world all back toward its own circumference from the tiniest of centers, a gift from a sparrow to the sky.
The woman on the patio looked up. She saw something like a whisp of snuffed fire curl out of the feathered breast dissolving, rising weightless, suspended in its energy, the sun. It could simply not be described as extinction. Certainly not, but expansion, and finally, boundlessness...
She found herself staring unblinded at the big light, then blinking, breathing again those short uncertain gasps that overtake us when we've caught ourselves at something utterly new.
Of course, she took a little shovel out of the garage and dug a hole. She laid the bird in the hole, behind a lawn chair, over by the edge of the ferns. She covered it with dirt. Then she went back to her dishes.
"They happen all around us," she told herself, "every moment they must be happening everywhere, and we are too busy to notice."