Sabbath means
living with limits –
with the limits of time: of millennia, of centuries, of minutes and of seconds,
with the limits of creatureliness,
with the limits of creation itself,
with the limits of knowing.

Sabbath means
living with faith –
faith in the muscle of ancient and unbroken promises,
faith in the magic of rest,
faith in the remorselessness of Love’s ongoing endeavour;
Wendell Berry is right: ‘Great work is done while we’re asleep’.

Sabbath means
living with hope –
hope that the deepest reality and creation’s flourishing do not revolve around me,
hope in the renewing power of stillness,
hope that both pools and rapids (in)form the life of the one river,
hope that a community – whose roots are long and deep, and whose shoots recur fresh and green – has heard rightly.

Sabbath means
living with love –
love of one’s self and of one’s other,
love of election to vocation,
love of the law of eternal delight,
love of what is,
and love of the other days, for ‘the Sabbath cannot survive in exile, a lonely stranger among days of profanity’ (Abraham Heschel).

© Jason Goroncy
2 September 2010


  1. Limits, faith, hope and love – all the important stuff.
    Finely written Jason.
    And I also like the Leunig picture – I have a Leunig calendar on my fridge door! This month he’s labouring along a rocky path with a car on his back.


  2. Yes Greg. Thanks for the correction. The poem, titled simply as ‘X’, appears in Wendell Berry’s book, A Timbered Choir: The Sabbath Poems 1979–1997 (New York: Counterpoint Press, 1988), 18. It reads as follows:

    Whatever is foreseen in joy
    Must be lived out from day to day.
    Vision held open in the dark
    By our ten thousand days of work.
    Harvest will fill the barn; for that
    The hand must ache, the face must sweat.

    And yet no leaf or grain is filled
    By work of ours; the field is tilled
    And left to grace. That we may reap,
    Great work is done while we’re asleep.

    When we work well, a Sabbath mood
    Rests on our day, and finds it good.


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