“The Sabbath was made for people, not people for the Sabbath. That is why the Chosen One is ruler even of the Sabbath.” ~ Mark 2:28
If you have ever felt the need to sleep with one eye open, you probably didn’t know it, but you have something in common with ducks. Ducks flock for protection. During the day, all the ducks are on the lookout so that when one spots danger the whole flock can escape. But when the sun goes down, the nocturnal predators take over just as the birds are looking to rest. So, the flock hunkers down together in a tight roost. The birds in the center, knowing they are safe, sleep soundly. But the birds on the perimeter are charged with keeping watch. They literally sleep with one eye open. As prey species, their eyes are positioned on the sides of their heads in order to maximize their field of vision. Thus, when they are rounded up, the outside birds have one eye looking at the flock and the other looking out into the darkness. Since they literally don’t need to keep an eye on the other ducks, they are able to allow the hemisphere of their brain controlling that eye to sleep, while staying alert for trouble with just half of their brain. With a bit of turning and shuffling, the flock stays safe and everyone gets a bit of rest.
Sabbath rest is a bit like that. There are moments of complete stillness, but rejuvenation also comes through the relief of feeling the safety that sabbath brings. Sabbath breaks up the cycle of necessary work with the work of comfort and creativity. It is not just coincidence that we dream when we sleep. Rest gives us freedom to imagine the world where we don’t have to struggle for safety and survival. The sabbath cycle of six days/years of work followed by a day/year of rest is a test to see if you have the faith to trust that God is in control. It is an opportunity to feel the full freedom of sleeping with both eyes closed because God has your back. Not only does that free us from worry, it relieves the burden of always needing to produce because of the myth of scarcity. Sabbath rest is a story of abundance, God’s abundance.
Prayer: Holy One, thank you for keeping an eye on us and letting us rest. Amen.