I sat down to write this post, and then reconsidered. There's no way, I thought, that I can describe how much I enjoy Shabbat without sounding like all the words I disbelieved and dismissed when I was growing up. Taste of eternity, oasis in time, etc.--beautiful images, but just an intriguing abstraction, like the sunrise to a blind man, until you've inhabited them.
It's taken me awhile to learn how, but I can now stop on Shabbat long enough to understand the gift of pausing. I don't always succeed--which is fine, because the acceptance of whomever I might be at that moment is also part of this day. I do my best to shove worry, fear, jealousy, and all their relatives under the rug for a few hours. It's pretty crowded down there; they won't get lonely, so I have no reason to feel guilty.
When alone, I don't always observe by the book. But I do my best to look at the world differently on Shabbat, mindfully and deliberately, marveling at the abundance with which I'm surrounded. With friends I delight in the ritual that sets this day apart: a real tablecloth, challah, some time wrestling with the words we heard or read that morning. I allow myself--demand, in fact--a few hours of feast for both palate and brain. And I must confess that my favorite Shabbat dessert is a nap on the couch right after reading People magazine. (Some people eat Twinkies; I take the low-calorie route and spend a weightless hour, preferably right after some meaty Torah study, pondering Brad and Angelina.)
Every week, month, year, I discover a little more about how to live in this gift. The best of Shabbats begin to feel like someone taking me by the hand, holding me close, teaching me to fly.