|Artist unknown...any idea?|
The good return that time has stolen.
Though creatures groan in misery,
Their flesh prefigures liberty
To end travail and bring to birth
Their new perfection in new earth.
At word of that enlivening
Let the trees of the woods all sing
And every field rejoice, let praise
Rise up out of the ground like grass.
What stood, whole in every piecemeal
Thing that stood, will stand though all
Fall - field and wood and all in them
Rejoin the primal Sabbath's hymn.
Sabbath has always been a concept that intrigues and often confuses me. In this poem Berry drew out a few more aspects to it that I hadn't yet considered. The lines "Their flesh prefigures liberty / To end travail and bring to birth / Their new perfection in the earth" elicits the recognition that while the brokenness of life is undeniable, the beauty it contains demands recognition that it was made for and looks ahead to much much more than what it currently is. The last line, the hope of that enduring, glimmering remnant of creation's original intent, to "Rejoin the primal Sabbath's hymn," speaks of what the Sabbath is ultimately a sign of: rest from our long repeating labor. Perhaps this is why the Sabbath is so emphasized in the Old Testament (See ESPECIALLY Exodus 31:12-18): it is the seal of God's unfolding story, the prefiguration of our entering God's rest and the return to and deeper entering of his design for our existence, minus the toil and trial that so profoundly marks our current estate.
Such thoughts make "Sabbath" more than just an escape, a day off, or a time of restriction. Sabbath is the seal of the story the Scriptures tell. Sabbath is promise; Sabbath is hope.