The sleepy guest

I arrive home from work to find Shabbat asleep on the couch, one bare foot dangling over the edge. I put down my things and creep into the room as quietly as I can.

Shabbat’s eyes open, bleary but content. “Welcome back,” Shabbat murmurs sleepily, burrowing deeper into the cushions.

“Welcome back yourself,” I say, lowering myself to the floor so I can look at Shabbat face-to-half-awake-face. “We’re not going out tonight, are we?”

“I baked cookies,” Shabbat says, and I notice that the room does smell of sugar and chocolate and childhood. “Let me sleep some more, and maybe we can hang out later. Okay?”

I lean forward and kiss Shabbat on the nose. “That sounds perfect,” I say.


Nothing new

Week after week Shabbat comes in, Shabbat goes out. The Earth rotates without end. So long as twilight gives way to dawn, there will be one day in seven when Shabbat can slip into the world.

For those waiting for that seventh day, Shabbat is a constant. An eternal connection. Generations pass away, new ones arise, and the same songs lift to the same sky from different mouths. The young become old, the living pass away and new feet take on the inexorable march to death, but Shabbat does not change. If the short-lived people who look to the sky invite Shabbat again to their table, Shabbat will come. Until the sun goes out and Earth ceases its circling.

(…And even then, if our descendants escape before the end they will probably find a way to take Shabbat to other worlds.)


Not white

Yom Kippur’s robes are the color of light that has never fractured. Unadulturated, all-encompassing, streaming, shining white. Yom Kippur wears the white of the sun, of angels and the holiest consecrated secrets. Watching it too long is to risk earthly blindness, to willingly wither away.

There are millions of colors in Shabbat’s coat—a rainbow in every fold. Yellow-brown, ruby-black, rust-gold, cream-peach and more blues than there are permutations in the sea.

Shabbat does not wear Yom Kippur white, though. Every thread in Shabbat’s coat is a remnant of shattered perfection—a soothing multi-faced retelling of the cornea-burning whiteness.

Yom Kippur is draped in purity. Shabbat’s sleeves are lined with loam-brown and blood-red, edged with silver-embroidered teardrops.

I wear Shabbat’s coat because it matches the world I walk through. It looks like peace and restlessness, compassion and gloating, spring, autumn and dawn. It is cut to human size.


Combat nurse

The siege ended two days ago. Now is a time of respite and negotiation. The battered and injured are still, gathering their strength in this quiet time between battles.

I see Shabbat approaching, but she is no longer my well-heeled, festive beloved. She has laid aside her glittering gown for a plain white smock, tucked her hair under a kerchief and scrubbed her face clear of makeup. She pauses beside each soul, offering rest and comfort to those who quake at the prospect of the coming struggle. Her feet slap softly against the rough floor as she approaches me.

“Take courage,” she whispers, lifting medicinal wine of my lips. As she presses a crust of bread to my palm, her smile offers a promise of sweet times yet to come. She moves to her next patient, and I realize that she has never been more beautiful.