Or at least, for the Sabbath 😉 Back when I wrote this post, we had just begun incorporating some of the Sabbath traditions into our home.
Over the last year, we’ve gotten even more deliberate about it – bringing in rituals such as lighting candles on the eve of Sabbath, saying prayers, and having an evening meal together where we don’t rush from the table, where no phones or iPad or computers are present, where no text messages are read. Email goes unchecked. Skype is off. Everything is set aside, and we relax.
I’ve been reading the book Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives, by Wayne Muller, and this passage spoke to me.
“We meet dozens of people, have so many conversations. We do not feel how much energy we spend on each activity, because we imagine we will always have more energy at our disposal. This one little conversation, this one extra phone call, this one quick meeting, what can it cost? But it does cost, it drains yet another drop of life. Then, at the end of days, weeks, months, years, we collapse, we burn out, and cannot see where it happened. It happened in a thousand unconscious events, tasks, and responsibilities that seemed easy and harmless on the surface but that each, one after the other, used a small portion of our precious life.
And so we are given a commandment: Remember the Sabbath. Rest is an essential enzyme of life, as necessary as air. Without rest, we cannot sustain the energy needed to have life. We refuse to rest at our peril – and yet in a world where overwork is seen as a professional virtue, many of us feel we can legitimately be stopped only by physical illness or collapse.”
I’m fortunate to work for people who honor my insistence on observing Sabbath. However, this practice is relatively new for me, and I still struggle with the best way to implement it. I’ve no desire to increase burdens for us, to create traditions that weigh my little family down with the observation of them.
But rest, stillness – being together, enjoying each others company, creating and eating yummy meals, doing things we all enjoy – that is what I’m seeking to cultivate each week.
The Boy looks forward to Friday evenings, lighting the candles, saying the prayers. He reminds us on Saturday, “This is Sabbath! We’re not supposed to work, we’re supposed to relax! Come on, let’s talk about something fun!”
Given my past, the years where I drowned in legalism, the years where I trudged through life looking for a list of thou-shalts and thou-shalt-nots, it would be very easy to slide into a list of rigid rules for observing Sabbath. It’s tempting to find a list of guidelines, and worry about not sticking to them.
Finding the rhythm of rest, though – that’s what I’m after. Sabbath is a gift, a sacred gift, and I don’t think the Creator intended it to stress us out!
This coming Saturday? We plan to sleep in, cook pancakes, play a few games together as a family. There will be knitting, and Minecraft, and maybe even a blanket fort constructed for a Nerf war. I’ll get online, and turn on Skype in time to join Shema Congregation.
While pretty much all of those things violate what a more Orthodox Sabbath would require, they are all things that bring us peace, and rest, and closer together as a family. To me, that’s what honoring Sabbath is about.
And so, while I adore my job…I’m finding I enjoy my life even more when I work for the weekend. Mondays aren’t a chore when my brain has had time to reboot and relax. Starting my week as rested as possible makes me a better employee, a better mom, a better wife.
The times in my life I spent struggling under man-made rules, trying to live up to an impossible (and ever-changing!) standard of “holiness”? I never felt rested, or at peace.
In letting go of that, in embracing ancient rituals, in listening to old commands –
I’m finding that my Father, He really does know best…