When my son Jacob was a very little boy, I shared with him a practice for helping us ease our way out of agitating, seemingly insolvable dilemmas. The practice was to sit very quietly, with our eyes closed, and simply breathe, and wait, and trust that an idea would "bubble up." It always worked. For me, it still does.
In Genesis chapter two, we read that God ceased on the seventh day after all the work of creation. The verb is often translated as "rested," but the plain sense of the root sh-v-t is to cease. This is the root from which we get the name sabbath, or Shabbat in Hebrew.
A few verses later, in the account of the creation of humans, the Torah tells us that God formed the human from the dust of the earth. God blew into its nostrils the breath of life, and the human became a nefesh chayah - a living being. The root n-f-sh in biblical Hebrew signifies a person, but could also be translated as soul.
These two root words - sh-v-t/to cease, and n-f-sh/soul - come together in a passage in Exodus which we sing every Friday evening: "The Israelite people shall keep the sabbath, observing the sabbath throughout the ages as a covenant for all time. It shall be a sign for all time between me and the people of Israel. For in six days God made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day shavat va-yinafash - God ceased and was refreshed."
The essence of Shabbat is not about resting in the sense of getting more sleep (although that helps!). Shabbat is meant to be a weekly experience of ceasing from our striving to be productive and in control of the natural world. In other words, to cease from playing God.
On Shabbat we are called upon to let go of that striving - to cease - and in the quiet space that opens up when we cease striving, our soul is refreshed. The Hebrew word for refreshed can actually be translated "re-souled." Just as God in the biblical story ceased and was re-souled, so too are we re-souled every time we put down the heavy work of acting like we're in control of the universe.
When I read these verses, I remember those moments with Jacob when we would cease trying to fix what couldn't be fixed. The ceasing in and of itself was refreshing, and inevitably led to some bubbling up of creative thoughts and ideas.
Shabbat comes once a week; it also comes in those moments - any moments - when we close our eyes, and breathe, and wait, and trust.