Jewish Journal

Thirsting for Shabbat

by Susan Esther Barnes

August 22, 2012 | 8:00 am

Photo by Olaf Herfurth/Wikimedia

Summer is always our busy time at work. For reasons I won’t go into here, this year it’s been even more busy than normal. I have worked into the evening more than I care to, and have even gone in on a number of Sundays.

Included in this work has been the fruition of a huge new project, some routine annual (but detailed) work, and a small crisis or three.

At the same time, I’ve been worried about one of my two cats, who underwent an ultrasound and a biopsy, and who is in the early stages of kidney problems, as well as some unexplained and possibly related swollen lymph nodes. We’re supposed to be getting new food for him from the vet this week, but twice in the last week I’ve noticed him not finishing his breakfast, which is, to say the least, not normal for him.

We spent last weekend with my in-laws and my husband’s uncle and aunt (aunt-in-law?), all of whom are perfectly nice people. However, it meant I was out of town for Shabbat. Also, as an introvert, spending so much time in the company of people I don’t know well can be a strain, even in the best of times.

And ever since last Thursday, I’ve been worried that I have absolutely no good ideas for what to write about on my blog this week.

All this stress has manifested itself in my body, including certain symptoms you don’t need to know about. I’m pretty sure that if I had my blood pressure taken, I would be severely scolded by the nearest medical professional, and perhaps offered some medication.

I know I don’t need medication. What I need is to slow down. What I need is some time for rest, relaxation, and contemplation. What I need is a space in which to remember myself and all the things I have for which I am deeply grateful. What I need is to be surrounded by a community I love, and which embraces me.

What I need is Shabbat.

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Susan Esther Barnes is a religious Reform Jew who can regularly be seen greeting people at her synagogue before services. She is a founding member of her synagogue’s chevra...

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