Given my nature, the mystical and spiritual fascinates me. Because of who I am, symbolism imbues my life.
I am not tradition-bound, but seek out experiences that meet the needs of my heart, feed my soul and spirit and are relevant to the season of my life.
I like to keep my life simple and uncomplicated and look for the wonders in the ordinary, the seemingly mundane and the natural. This goes for every aspect of my life. We grow our own food and keep a whole food diet. I prefer natural fibers to synthetics, wood and leather to glass and chrome, natural light to the artificial, the raw strains of indigenous music to the harsh simulated sounds of popular music.
This also applies to my spiritual journey. I refrain from man-made teachings and dogma with all the glitz and glam of modern religion. I daily pursue my own peculiar path living as authentic as possible to my blueprint. I search for spiritual experiences that encourage my growth and enrich my life as a whole. I often find these in unexpected places and encounters, in the most natural and simple of settings.
One of the little wonders that I have found on my journey is keeping Shabbat.
Keeping Shabbat is all that I want from a spiritual practice – simple, straightforward and uncomplicated; a spiritual experience that holds high value and meaning to me.
I had ventured onto this particular path in seeking a deeper understanding of God. I started out by researching the history behind the tradition. I also studied Torah as to the precepts pertaining to the keeping of the different Shabbats throughout the year. After gathering all the necessary information, I meditated on these for a time, trying to form an idea for myself of why I would like to take part in this colorful, ancient tradition infused with so much symbolism and meaning. I had found an observance filled with cultural nuances that I wanted to adopt and emulate. The foundational teachings encouraged the development and growth of qualities that I admired and desired as part of my life.
Keeping Shabbat opened up a new way to me for relating with God, as I perceive him to be. It became a special time of re-connection and devotion, meditation and prayer as well as rest and refreshment for my body, soul and spirit. A time specially set aside to become quiet and attentive to the whisperings of the Spirit, to receive guidance, counsel and direction for the next seven-day cycle.
In my search for wisdom, I found a place of peace and tranquility, in the midst of the clamor and upheaval of the world. Not only did I find knowledge and understanding, I found a new way of being. The habit, of taking out time from my usually activities to reflect on the weekly cycle completed, created a place of gratitude and appreciation, that led to a lifestyle of contentment, happiness and fulfillment.
This seemingly simple observance had enriched my personal spiritual experience and generated growth. It cleared my day from the usual routines and activities, creating time and space to spend with not only God but also the significant people in my life, to reconnect with them and strengthen ties. Furthermore, it also opened up an avenue of relating with others that find a spiritual connection in the same way.
Keeping Shabbat is a private affair to me, an attitude of the heart and a journey of the spirit. Fundamentally, our spiritual experiences and growth are of an individual and private nature. It is an internal occurrence becoming visible through its fruit. The fruit is that which we can share with others outside of ourselves.
It is not about ritual or routine, it is not about obeying law and instruction. For me, it is the voluntary participation, the personal desire to connect with God or others, the uncompelled giving of time, energy and undivided attention. It is not a tradition or habit, but a purposeful decision to be available, open to, and aware of the Divine presence. A deliberate seeking out and making the time for connecting and experiencing an encounter of a spiritual nature. It is a conscious desire and longing for a communal, spiritual experience.
As the sun sets on a Friday and I put the last touches to Shabbat dinner, I delight in the privilege of this simple observance and the pleasure of sharing it with the one I love. It is such a wonderful opportunity for expressing gratitude and appreciation. I marvel in the wonder of being part of a global community of Shabbat Keepers, each with their own intention and motive and I feel myself connected to something bigger than me.
While sharing the meal, my body, soul and spirit settles into a place of peace and tranquility. From this peaceful state, I then make the conscious decision to be open to not only the Divine but also those that I love. I dare to encounter, experience, express and feel; to become fully alive and aware.
The INVITATION of Shabbat, that you may allow the experience to touch you.
©Copyright Micelle Coetsee 2015