Tuesday, August 31, 2010


I love when I get to take some sabbath time. But recently I have started to contemplate what that really means to me and for me. I know it is supposed to be a day of rest. But can we be a little more specific? Is it a break from work? Is it a break from chores? Is it a day of simply being lazy? I can't speak for everyone on this subject, because I feel that there really are no universal standards for what is and is not sabbath. For me it's a little bit of all of these things.

On the one hand, it is a break from work and responsibility. However, it must be an intentional break. It is rarely a "lazy day" where I sit around in my pajamas and do nothing. It rarely involves going somewhere else, because that is often a rather stressful experience rather than a relaxing one. Family vacation almost never qualifies as sabbath. It does not happen by chance, but it also cannot be planned, created, or forced.

For me, sabbath is a celebration. A time to put stress and worry and so many other things on the shelf, either for a few hours or even a few days. An opportunity, and often a reminder, to relish the blessings of my life. Not to show off or be excessive or extravagant, but to take a moment to enjoy the here and now. Rather than simply squeezing a little "oh by the way thanks" into my prayers before more "gimme, gimme", I want to take the time to BE thankful. To be a good steward of the resources that I have, even if the greatest resource is my time. To take some time to not only care for my needs, but to actually love and value myself and my desires.

I do not believe that sabbath has to be on a certain day of the week or last a certain amount of time to be valid. I would rather have two hours of true sabbath in the middle of the week so that I can have my soul fed, than to have a weekend of laziness that left me feeling more drained than when I started! Obviously, for me, Sunday isn't a great option for taking my sabbath. In many respects, it isn't an option at all. In fact, taking days away from work, while they are an important step towards sabbath, are not in themselves enough to constitute sabbath.

Right now, for me, Thursday is my sabbath day. Thursday is one of my days "off" from the church. Generally I wake up whenever I feel like (or whenever the dog feels like I need to be up) and I do what immediately needs to be done. This is rarely more than taking out the dog or maybe getting something to drink. Then I sit down to read my e-mails, check on the news, and maybe play a game. My morning is pretty leisurely. If necessary, this is the day when I do my grocery shopping. For me, shopping is a perfect sabbath activity because I enjoy it and it gives me some time alone with my thoughts, without too many distractions. I will do things around the house, but only as far as they help to keep me from being distracted and allow me to appreciate what is around me.

How do you observe Sabbath? What are your obstacles? Do you have any suggestions for things I could add to my own sabbath practices?

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