Sabbath

M A Y   2 0 2 1

Dear Friends,

I’d like you to know that in June I will begin a six-month sabbatical — taking a break from my steady diet of teaching, writing, planning, counseling, telephoning, and other scheduled and administrative duties. Notes from the Open Path will continue to be posted, drawing from earlier Notes that are favorites of mine. Flashes will also continue to appear on Sundays, selected from The Book of Flashes or other unpublished sayings.

sabbathAlso in June, my wife, Rabia, and I — and our cat Ariel — will be making a much-anticipated move to “West Light,” the Sufi Way’s home in the high-desert mountains of southern Colorado. The spaciousness, beauty, and peace of that land nourish my soul and will be a fitting place for my sabbatical.

The word “sabbatical” is cognate with “sabbath,” the practice of observing a day of rest and prayer, and is also related to the earliest agricultural practice of the “sabbath year” (shmita in Hebrew) in which the land was left to lie fallow every seventh year so that it might be renewed.

After 17 years at the helm of the Sufi Way, I feel a deep need to be quiet, to sit under the stars at night and listen, to walk in the mountains and let their old holiness instruct me. One of the Ten Commandments tells us to observe the sabbath and to “make it holy.” That’s the reminder I’d like to guide my sabbatical — make it holy.

To make something holy means to experience it as sacred. While that may sound a bit pretentious or grandiose to our modern ears, to me it goes right to the point. In a few months I’ll be 77 — an auspicious number! — and as the years pile up it becomes ever clearer to me how sacred and precious this life is. I want to learn to worship and praise each day as the mystic writer Annie Dillard tells us in her wild fashion:

“Every day is a god, each day is a god, and holiness holds forth in time. I worship each god, I praise each day splintered down, splintered down and wrapped in time like a husk, a husk of many colors spreading, at dawn fast over the mountains split.”

To make it holy, this fallow time, to be quiet and to silently praise the awesome gift of being here, now, within the infinite holiness of all, that’s my wish.

A loving bow of thanks to all of you who have read these missives over the years, and with blessings on your path,

Elias