Saturday 31 December 2022

2023 Word of the Year - Menuha

 As I embark on what will be a full 2023, I have been considering what my word for the year should be. There is much uncertainty leading into this new year as I take on a new role which will see me spending a lot more time away from home in Perth. There have been a few conversations about how this will work for our family and the need to ensure my work roles do not become all consuming.

As I have been preparing for this new role, I have been exploring the theme of "Sabbath" as an underpinning framework for the formation program I will be co-ordinating. This has led me to read to Abraham Joshua Heschel's "The Sabbath". This is a book I have had on my "to read" list for a while now. I read it in one sitting and consumed every word.

Heschel, a Jewish scholar, unveils the mystery of the Sabbath in poetic beauty. One section, in particular, caught my attention. Heschel explains the nuances of the term "menuha" and its significance to observing the Sabbath. I knew straight away that this needed to be my word of 2023. The Hebrew word "menuha" is usually translated as "rest". Heschel explains, however, that this rest is not simply the putting down of tools in order to recuperate before starting work again. The Sabbath, the menuha, itself completes the work of creation. In the first account of Creation in Genesis, the creative process is finished when menuha is formed on the seventh day. On all of the previous days God sees what is created and says it is good. On this seventh day God blesses the day and makes it holy.

This understanding opens up a new significance to finding times of rest amid the busyness of life. Without sabbath times, without menuha, my work will not be complete. There is an element of menuha that takes a step back and savours the work of the week before moving on. Menuha seems to take delight in what has been created. In the Jewish tradition this mystery is seeped with ritual and celebration. 

So, in 2023, as I make my way up and down the highway and juggle two roles, I hope to find my own ways to find menuha. It is unlikely that this will come in the form of a day each week, but I aim to find menuha times in the midst of life. Being intentional about creating menuha will somehow complete my work.

Happy New Year to you all!

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