The women who had come with Jesus from Galilee followed Joseph and saw the tomb and how his body was laid in it. Then they went home and prepared spices and perfumes. But they rested on the Sabbath in obedience to the commandment.
This last sentence really stuck with me and has been in my head since Thursday. I’m not sure how well I can describe what I’m feeling, but appreciative might be a good word. Even during times of great sadness and despair, God set aside time for people to be still, to recover, to rest. This is not suggesting that you push that pain away, that you make yourself rest from it, but instead that you give yourself time to stop trying to fix everything. God created this world and I’m sure God knows that we can’t schedule and clean and organize and make the awful stuff that happens in our lives somehow more presentable. We want to, sure, and society seems to want us to hide our ugly behind corny doormats, car decals about stick figures, and scripture verses painted on upcycled wood pallets. What if God knew that life is unbelievably hard and that the love God feels for us can conquer anything, but we’re human and thus unable to feel that love fully and trust it for what it is? What if God knew that we needed days where rest was required, because we wouldn’t stop otherwise? This commandment to honor the Sabbath is a form of love, because our hearts, our minds, and our bodies need mending and stitching up anything is tedious. When you get fitted for a garment, you have to be still and let the tailor work around your curves, your specific frame. When a doctor closes a wound, you have to be still so that the doctor can close the skin in the best way to both prevent future infection and move with the stretch and give of your own body. When a baby needs to sleep and is fretful, it needs to be still, so the caregiver helping it to succumb to sleep will swaddle it, tucking arms and legs in tight so that the baby can’t wake itself from its own jerky flails. God is trying to rock us, to comfort us, to sing to us the songs of love that we’ll feel in our aches, to stitch up invisible injuries and help them be more manageable, to fit our lives to us in ways that make us feel beautiful. In very simple terms, God knows we need naps and God wants us to have them. There is so much love shared when someone tells another to go snuggle into bed, that they’ve got everything until that nap is over. We celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Easter and we tend to focus on what this means about God’s love for us, but God’s love for us was evident years before Jesus. For most Christians, Easter is a bit chaotic. For me, Easter is one of the hardest days of the year, filled with noise, food, egg hunting, candy-fueled drama, and intense emotions related to what this day means to my faith. I’m not sure I know how to honor the Sabbath, but clearly this rest is something God wants for me. Even as God’s son’s body was in a tomb, God wanted the women who adored Jesus to feel loved through rest and stillness. God wants me to nap, to know it’s ok to nap, requires me to nap and feel safe under my blanket, and this is a love I’ll need time to accept. It goes completely against the Christianity that I knew growing up, filled with bible classes, pot-lucks, service work, near constant events to attend, causing church to become an obligation that saps energy and instills shame in those who aren’t in the building any time the doors are unlocked. God didn’t send Jesus to die for me just so that I’d feel like I had to constantly repay this debt. God sent Jesus to assure me that I’m loved, no matter how many naps I take.