days of deepening…(awaiting that which is decidedly fertile)
1640s, “of or suitable for the Sabbath,” from Latin sabbaticus, from Greek sabbatikos “of the Sabbath” (see Sabbath). Noun meaning “a year’s absence granted to researchers” (originally one year in seven, to university professors) is from 1934, short for sabbatical year, etc., first recorded 1886 (the thing itself is attested from 1880, at Harvard), related to sabbatical year (1590s) in Mosaic law, the seventh year, in which land was to remain untilled and debtors and slaves released.
Old English sabat “Saturday as a day of rest,” as observed by the Jews, from Latin sabbatum, from Greek sabbaton, from Hebrew shabbath, properly “day of rest,” from shabath “he rested.” Spelling with -th attested from late 14c., not widespread until 16c.
The Babylonians regarded seventh days as unlucky, and avoided certain activities then; the Jewish observance might have begun as a similar custom. Among European Christians, from the seventh day of the week it began to be applied early 15c. to the first day (Sunday), “though no definite law, either divine or ecclesiastical, directed the change,” but elaborate justifications have been made. The change was driven by Christians’ celebration of the Lord’s resurrection on the first day of the week, a change completed during the Reformation.
The original meaning is preserved in Spanish Sabado, Italian Sabato, and other languages’ names for “Saturday.” Hungarian szombat, Rumanian simbata, French samedi, German Samstag “Saturday” are from Vulgar Latin *sambatum, from Greek *sambaton, a vulgar nasalized variant of sabbaton. Sabbath-breaking attested from 1650s.
sabbatical. the word bathed over me like cool water to a banged-up knee, aloe to a sunburn, a waft of lavender to the nose. my eyes swept across its four short syllables; they draped me like a balm.
sabbatical, the word itself soothes. each sound jumble tumbling softly into the next, a somersault of sound rolling off the tongue. it’s a word that seized me, and instantly made perfect sense. as if it had been calling out, awaiting my attention.
i believe in sabbath, by my definition “anointed time,” time to dwell in the sacred, to burrow into the nautilus of our deepest stirrings.
time to be quiet. time to ponder. time to be alone with one’s thoughts, to see where they course, to discover the rivulets and the river stones under which they seek shadow.
for too long now i’ve felt i was uttering sound when silence might have been the wiser course. we are a noisy nation. too noisy. the sound of silence might be the wisest one for recalibrating so much of what’s amiss on this cacophonous planet.
especially now, after a homegrown tornado of a year here in this old house — of illness, death, distress, and mountainloads of worries — i hear a deep-down shushing, the call to be quiet. say little more. offer silence, the most generous of invitations in which each one of us is untethered, unconstrained, our thoughts our own to trace as far or near as we so choose.
so many friday mornings i’ve sat down to write with a dyspeptic sense that i might be barging in, the noisy guest who doesn’t know her exit was welcomed hours ago. sometimes, though, i sat down unsure of where i’d go, and suddenly i’d find myself plumbing some eddy i’d not realized was still water awaiting stirring.
and now, after so many hollowings (the cavernousness that comes in the wake of heartache), and with a thick batch of editing about to drop onto my laptop lap, it seems a fine time to tiptoe quietly off to the riverbank, where i’ll keep close watch but watch in silence.
i’ve been at it, straight, for 1,027 posts, and i would have paused at 1,025 but then dear ginny neared her end, and i was drawn to leave her mark here, at the table where she so dutifully pulled up a chair week after week after week for all these almost 15 years, always hoping for a few threads that might have unspooled with the doings of her grandsons or her son. (not long before she died she asked me to print out any of the chairs she might have missed, but she only wanted ones about the family, she specified, “none of that religion or nature.”)
to be on sabbatical is not to curl up in a ball and doze for a van winkle-style snooze. it is to read, to learn, to exercise curiosities and follow trickles to their source. sabbatical, in agricultural terms, is to leave a field unsown, to give it air and time to grow fertile again. consider me in fallows. seeking the fertile will be my task.
i’ll be back once i feel a stirring again, once i think there might be a thought, an observation, a story worth leaving here at the table that’s become so sacred over time, sanctified by our gentle kindnesses, our willingness to listen, our back-bent humilities.
in the meantime, there’s a trove here to peek around. but mostly, there is life to be lived at full attention, and from the bottom of my heart, bless you, and thank you, for stopping by whenever you feel so stirred.
one last summery salad to send you on your plein air picnics….
homegrown cucumber, fennel, corn, red pepper, and basil leaf salad
serves 1 to 4, depending how hungry you find yourself
chop to your heart’s content:
1 or 2 cucumbers (preferably, plucked from the vine)
1 fennel bulb (plus a few fronds)
1 ear fresh corn
1 red pepper
fennel fronds, to taste
basil leaves, a good handful
can be chopped, covered tightly, and chilled ahead.
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
1 fat garlic clove
1 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
3 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
4 to 6 Tbsp. olive oil
basil leaves chopped
fresh ground pepper
*really, i wing it with measurements here, but i am adding rough approximates for those who like a little precision at their chopping block….
mix dressing ahead of time, let steep all day.
shortly before serving, add dressing to chopped salad, mix with freshly chopped basil leaves and fennel fronds; toss.
savor summer on a fork.
*the dragonfly, according to hindu teaching, is a “symbol of change, transformation and self-realization. it teaches us to love life, to rejoice and have faith even amidst difficulties.” be on the lookout for your dragonflies…..
a question to ponder: how will you rejuvenate your soul in these deepening days of summer?
p.s.s. don’t be surprised and please don’t roll your eyes if i come back sooner rather than later. soon as i think i’ve nothing to say, i might think of something to scribble before it escapes me….
Both 💔 and ❤️. Understand completely and will miss you. Praying you all that you need in these tender times. Write when you must. Enjoy the quiet. Know you are loved. And loved and loved.
Thank yiu my beautiful tender hearted friend ❤️❤️
I treasure silence and the idea of sabbatical so I wish you well during your upcoming days of rejuvenation. But I want you to know that you were never a noisy guest. You are a quiet voice who beautifully invited us all to pay attention to our world and the people in it. xoxoxo
I think of you and the generosity of silence often. ❤️❤️
“sense that i might be barging in” – Never! Always welcome! You must know we look forward to hearing from you. I understand the need to be quiet, to be fallow, to restore and recharge, to be untethered, to be free to indulge in where our curiosity and that whisper inside leads us. Enjoy! (Without guilt or apology) Come back to the table and draw us in anytime you are so moved! And that butterfly, a Red Admiral, so stunningly beautiful, a sign of transformation, of resurrection after a “sabbatical” swaddled in its chrysalis. Maybe a hello from Ginny? I will miss you on Friday mornings, yet wish you a fruitful time writing and editing your book and being with those you love. 💕 Until later…
Love that you knew the red admiral. He appeared within hours of ginny’s dying. He felt intentional to me. As did the dragonfly. ❤️❤️Be well. Xox
From the bottom of y (our ) dear readers) bless y o u and thank y o u . Rest, Explore and Unfurl to your hearts content. Will be out here at full attention and awaiting to hear your stirrings revealed .
Oh bless you! I saw this just after getting to the airport this morning, and it melted me as I traveled through TSA. I’ll be back soon enough. A hundred blessings❤️
I will miss you.
It is a wonder to me that there are souls reading and I’ve never even known. Thank you. I don’t think I’ll be gone too long. The chair is one of the most sacred books in my life….
We who cherish you are here with you in the stillness. Take all the time you need to enter into this quiet respite of sabbatical, but do please be aware that your posts have never been “noisy.” Wishing you peace and copious hours of refreshment and rejuvenation in the days ahead. Sending oh-so-much love until next we meet in this space. Hugs and more hugs to you and your beloved ones. xoxoxo
Bless you, beautiful Amy❤️. If Sabbath is sacred time, sabbatical is just what this soul needs to stew in…..
My first reaction to your announcement is, “Oh my dear Barbie, nooooooo!! I only pulled up to the table for my first story a few months ago!” (How selfish is that, right?!) But, as you mentioned yourself, there’s a whole bunch of stories to go back to, or in my case, to read for the very first time. I can’t wait to dig in and get started! I respect and will honor your need for silence as best I can, but I hope that you won’t mind hearing that little “ping” that signals you to a new email, which will be coming from me every now and again. 😘❤️
I ALWAYS love a ping!!!! Just want to absorb all that’s unfolded and not take up air if it’s thin. I love thst you found the chair!!!
Nothing soothes and nourishes as much as blessed silence! I will be here whenever you feel ready to return. . . Take good care of yourself! Your words have always provided solace and joy to your readers. Hopefully you find that for yourself.
Bless you! So so much. Xox
I will miss you on Friday mornings. Thank you for all the blessed words you’ve given us already. Best wishes for time just for you.
It won’t be long, and it’s certainly not forever. Just a little time to breathe, be quiet, sift through the many grains of life that have recently slipped by. I want to be mindful of the sacredness here….
I shall deeply miss your weekly postings. Over the past several years you introduced me to authors, recipes, and ways of seeking grace. Your writings often served as a lodestar during difficult times and I thank you. I think during these post-pandemic days we are all re-assessing how we spend our energies and a sabbatical makes perfect sense. Thank you.
well, dear sarah, i miss the chairs already — that is, the wonderful folks who pull up close, even when i don’t know they’re doing so! it’s not going to be a long sabbatical, and i might even leave little morsels of wonders i find. i started reading tolstoy’s calendar of wisdom this morning, and page after page i want to run and leave at the table. so don’t be surprised if my “sabbatical” turns into more of a quick nap! i’ve never been so good at napping or sleeping, and i might find i’m ill-equipped at “sabbaticaling.” it’s truly lovely to know the chair has been even a dim light in your night sky. that melts my heart. i always think i’m writing to maybe a circle of three!!! take good care, and see you soon. xox
Fully understand the pull of silence and stillness. May it be balm for your heart and soul. Know you will be held in my heart and tucked in my prayer as you replenish your being.
I quietly await the invitation to “pull up a chair” once again. ❤️
ah, dear jackie. to be honest, it was really hard to resist the pull to write this week, but in faith that the respite might unearth something deeper i stuck to my resolve. i hope my quiet isn’t mistaken as a pushing away. the invitation to pull up a chair is always present. and i hope the invitation to quiet is a two-way invitation, and that the quiet is savored on the receiving end as well.
sending a certain and quiet reach across the table. xoxox
After the year you’ve had, dear one, a sabbatical makes sense — I send love to your hearth, summer porch and kitchen, some of my favorite spaces in the world. (Thanks, also, for the salad recipe!)
thanks, beautiful. even from my sabbatical hammock it’s more than lovely to find you swinging by the chair. xoxox