Wednesday, November 24, 2010

What is Sabbath?

Is there anything God created that's more perfect than the idea of Sabbath? In the last few months I've been trying to really instigate this idea of a weekly day of rest and it's infused my week with a sense of peace and a clearer focus on the priorities I've chosen for my life.

Last Sunday a guest preacher at our church spoke about Sabbath and the fact that it allows the rest our bodies and minds need. She even went as far as to say that it's almost arrogant to insist that the world can't go on without our help 7 days a week! By taking a day off, we realize our insignificance in the grand scheme of things and God's significance as the source of everything.

Throughout history people have fell into the trap of legalizing the Sabbath- turning it into rules that need to be followed, rather than the rest it's supposed to embody. That being said, I do have a few "guiding principles" that I've discovered bring me the rest and peace of Sabbath (but I don't allow these to become concrete legalizations):

  • Sabbath, above all, means a day where there is nothing I "have" to do (other than take care of my daughter, of course). No work responsibilities, no cleaning the house, no household projects.

  • Sabbath is usually Sunday for me, but if that's not possible, I choose another day. I often have responsibilities at church on Sundays, but I try to have my time before and after church be Sabbath time. That means, reading the newspaper in the morning, not treadmilling, going to church and returning to a day free of work.

  • What constitutes "work" completely depends on my attitude. Some days, I can't wait to get my hands in the dirt in my garden and it's completely relaxing. Other days, garden projects feel like chores that "need" to get done before the next rain, etc... Some days turning on my oven to cook dinner feels like work, while on others, I crave therapuetic cooking and baking.

  • Knowing myself and my obsession with cleanliness well, I only truly am able to relax if the house is clean ahead of time. Sometimes this means staying up late the night before to deep clean the kitchen or vaccuum the floors. But I just know that my relaxation is so much purer when not distracted by a dirty floor. (Again, this isn't something I legalize, but just something I realize about myself and my "compulsions").

  • Sabbath activity can be non-productive. I often spend Leta's naptime on that day reading fiction or books that I don't "have" to read for any reason, collage journaling (something that is competely purposeless, but brings me so much satisfaction), or even...the holy grail of non-productivity...taking a nap!

  • Sabbath is a time of enjoying the company of family. The afternoon is spent doing whatever sounds fun to Matt, Leta, and I, often visiting our extended family in the evenings.

Now, I do have a confession as I write this post. This week has been one of the busiest work weeks for me since I went part time. So, this week I was forced to have only a Sabbath morning yesterday and will have the late afternoon today. It's not ideal. But, hey, in times when things are out of my control, I still know there is immense value in still carving out that day of rest.

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