For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield; but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the wild animals may eat. You shall do the same with your vineyard, and with your olive orchard. Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest, so that your ox and your donkey may have relief, and your homeborn slave and the resident alien may be refreshed. Ex. 23:10-12
In the seventh year. On the seventh day. The idea of sabbatical goes back to the people of ancient Israel who remembered God's command to rest. It gave birth to the idea of regular, scheduled, rest—weekly, at least, but also in weeks of years: "in the seventh year."
A day a week, without work, without distraction, focusing on what matters most, what makes for whole life, what's made you, who matters. Maybe once every week of years also gives a regaining of rest, and a recovery of learning, and a retooling of direction, and a reacquaintance with our Creator.
Because God rested on the seventh day of creation, to admire and reflect and behold what was perfect, and what in God's grace is still perfect. We're made in God's image, so the bible says, and so to reflect God's rhythm of really hard work and a regular, scheduled, pause for deep rest and renewal is to be our best selves.
Because God beheld what God has created, so we, too, should pause to behold.
Because we are not better than God. Because we don't make ourselves. Because we can never do enough, so must keep perspective. Because to work ourselves to exhaustion dishonors God. Because we need rest to be whole. Because the story says that God rested.
Because it's only in pausing that we can see what is truly needful, who is in our eye's way, and what we might be called to do. Because the field was meant to be left fallow in each seventh year so that the poor might eat without humiliating themselves, and so the animals might get their due too. Because the poor, the oppressed, animals, and God's creation needs our attention too. Because we don't want to participate in injustice, and so need to hear God's truth and find our way to what is right, to learn what we might be called to sacrifice, to remember how to love, to share what we have and what we know, to set things right.
Every seventh day. Every seventh year.