Shabbos is an opportunity to take a break in life. We spend all week rushing along, doing this project, taking care of that errand. We have to keep in mind all the rapidly approaching deadlines for all the things we need to take care of. It's hectic! Shabbos gives us a day to separate ourselves from that busy short-term minded lifestyle. It gives us the opportunity to read a book for pleasure, to talk with good friends, to have a meal with family, to take a nap, and to just think about life and what it means in a larger sense than just when the next deadline is.
Even the morning in shul is good. Davening is typically at a much slower pace than a regular weekday service. Maybe I don't agree with the literal words of every prayer, but in the inherent meanings of many of them is easy to find resonance. Peace, brotherhood, justice and prosperity are common themes. And even lauding Creation and using an abstract personification for Existence can be deeply moving as well. Honestly, I feel most at peace and spiritual (if you could call it that) during the Kedusha of Musaf. The whole thing must be taken metaphorically, of course. Even among true blue believers I don't think they would take it literally. I take it as an ecstatic expression of awe at all of Existence along with the hope that there's more to it than merely how it appears. But even without any meaning, the way the words fit together along with the superb tunes make it an amazing experience.
The reading of the Torah gives me an opportunity to study a small piece of an excellent work. Most people just don't have the time or the inclination to take out a chumash and start reading. Shabbos gives us a set time each week to open one up and look through a prepared section. The Torah has deep historical and cultural significance to Judaism. It is also valuable as an ethical work even though its precise moral commands can sometimes be distasteful to the modern ear. Despite that, however, there is an underlying theme where the morality is based on fairness and justice and it is the spirit of the laws that are meaningfully directive. There are also a number of true gems. As we just read this past Shabbos, "Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil." Where can you find such an excellent and far-ranging ethic phrased any more eloquently?
Taking a day out of your regular schedule and cutting off all the regular distractions like television or computers gives one an opportunity to think. To think about life, to think about Judaism, to think about the universe, to even think about God, if one is so inclined and however you understand the term. To think about history, to think about the future, to think about ethics, to think about the world at large and to think about your goals and what you find meaningful in life.
Now this kind of weekly time-out is more important than any transient deadline or little project. Granted, it can be inconvenient some weeks, but if you make it a merely optional activity then it will lose its feeling of importance and it will lose much of its significance. That is inevitable. Life can too easily find itself being wrapped up in all sorts of pointless details if we don't take the time to give daily life a rest and to consider the bigger pictures.