How Staying Still Can Take Us on Our Greatest Journeys
This is what the principle of the Sabbath enshrines. It is, as Abraham Joshua Heschel, the great Jewish theologian of the last century, had it, "a cathedral in time rather than in space"; the one day a week we take off becomes a vast empty space through which we can wander, without agenda, as through the light-filled passageways of Notre Dame. Of course, for a religious person, it's also very much about community and ritual and refreshing one's relationship with God and ages past. But even for the rest of us, it's like a retreat house that ensures we'll have something bright and purposeful to carry back into the other six days.
The Sabbath recalls to us that, in the end, all our journeys have to bring us home. And we do not have to travel far to get away from our less considered habits. The places that move us most deeply are often the ones we recognize like long-lost friends; we come to them with a piercing sense of familiarity, as if returning to some source we already know. "Some keep the Sabbath going to Church — " Emily Dickinson wrote. "I keep it, staying at Home."
2014 by Pico Iyer. Excerpt from The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere by Pico Iyer (Simon & Schuster & TED).
Listen to Pico read a section from The Art of Stillness.