Ah, February. Time to make another small change. Last month’s change was, if I do say so myself, a bit on the superficial side. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that, but for the sake of balance I’m turning now a bit more inward, towards the soul side of life.
Eco shabbat is about rest. For us, and for the planet. It is a time to slow down, literally and metaphorically. In Judaism, Shabbat begins at sundown on Friday night with the ritual lighting of candles, reciting of prayers, and sharing of challah. It ends at sundown on Saturday. The time in between is spent turning away from mundanity and towards the sacred. Without the distractions of technology and work and busy-ness, shabbat creates room for prayer and reflection. For dedicated time with family and friends and one’s own self. It is also a time to lessen our impact on the earth, to let it, too rest.
To facilitate this rest, life gets unplugged for a spell. Everything goes acoustic, as my musician husband was pleased to point out. Time is taken away from computer and television screens. Electric lights are left off. The car is kept parked. No money is exchanged. The radio is silent. Food is prepared in advance. In exchange, one gets to enjoy candle light. To go to bed early. To make music, play games, create art, take naps, journal, go for a walk, or visit neighbors. To give thanks.
My hope is to bring an eco-shabbat into our home at least one full day and night this month. February is full to bursting for our family. We have so much going on–wonderful, enriching things, yes, but the scales are tipped firmly in the camp of do, do, do. One day of rest would be a gift, a blessing, a wonderful beginning. And along the way we’ll carve out small shabbats. Earth hours, if you will. Weekday dinners spent in candle light. The odd day spent wholly at home, with nothing on the agenda. My hope is that it grows from there, becoming more a part of our lives, our rhythm, our days.
With thanks to the spiritual traditions that have passed this wisdom down.