An Open Invitation to Rest {Book Club}

It is fitting to focus on Sabbath this week in our Sacred Rhythms reading as we prepare for our Velvet Ashes retreat on the theme of Shalom. It is fitting to talk about Sabbath after we have just celebrated Easter, the hope-filled reminder of the One our hearts long for, the One with whom we commune.

I think, really, it is fitting that we talk about Sabbath on this ordinary Tuesday (or Monday, depending on where you are).

I’ve heard myself say it so many times, and maybe you have too: I’m not very good at Sabbath-ing. When I pause to rest, my mind keeps going with the bullet points of tasks waiting to be completed, or I feel guilty for slowing down. It is hard to let go of all the burdens that weigh heavy in order to listen well, play well and rest well.

But that’s why we need to practice, why we need to let Sabbath be part of our rhythm as we figure out what works well for us. It takes intentionality, which Barton talked about. She said, “Sabbath keeping is more than just taking a day of rest; it is a way of ordering one’s life around a pattern of working six days and then resting on the seventh… the rest of the week must be lived in such a way as to make sabbath possible.”

I so needed that direction. Often when I carve out time to rest, I haven’t been intentional in the days previous so I get distracted by other things. Or I try to fill that rest time with all the wonderful things I want to do and then it doesn’t end up being restful. I think of what I’ve heard other people doing on their Sabbath and try to do that too.

I need to remember that I’m human, and I can’t do it all.

I need to remember that I’m unique and what is life-giving for someone else might not be the best fit for me.

What delights you? What replenishes you? These are great questions to start the process of preparing for Sabbath. Barton’s list of her own practices does sound amazing to me- on the couch with a quilt and a good book, and deep conversations with the people she loves the most. Maybe that isn’t what would delight and replenish you. So what does?

Practicing the Sabbath requires intentionality. It requires practice. It takes a willingness to admit we are human and can’t do all the things, all the time. And I think it takes longing. We must desire to be in God’s presence, to be refreshed by Him regularly.

I love the way the chapter ends:

“There have to be times to sit with your gratitude for the good gifts in your life that get forgotten in the rush. To celebrate and play and roll down hills and splash in water and spread paint on paper or walls or each other. There have to be times to sit and wait for the fullness of God that replenishes body, mind and soul—if you can even stand to be so full. There has to be time for the fullness of time or time is meaningless”.

Have you found it easier to practice Sabbath in your home culture or your adopted culture? What have you had to do through the week to make Sabbath a habit? What do you long for Sabbath to become for you, to do in you? We would love to hear your practical suggestions for Sabbath as well as what God has done for you through the practice of Sabbath.

Next week we will wrap up our discussion of Sacred Rhythms and look at what Barton calls a Rule of Life, a way of integrating the different disciplines into the everyday patterns of our lives.

We’ve got some fun things planned for the summer and I hope you will join Rachel and me in Book Club in the coming months! The first two weeks of May we will pause our reading and hear from two different authors as they share about the process for writing their books. Make sure you check out the giveaways we will have those two weeks! Then we will read a short novella called The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett. Look for a preview of that book in next week’s post.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

It is not too late to register for the Velvet Ashes retreat! Click on the button above to learn more.

3 Comments

  1. Rachel Kahindi April 23, 2019

    I find Sabbath more necessary and more difficult in my host culture. Rest isn’t valued in this culture. But life is so busy and stressful here, I need Sabbath more than ever. I had days of rest in the US, but they really took no planning, scheduling, or effort.

    I was able to start taking Sabbaths here when I recognized the requirement for a day of preparation. If I can be disciplined to get my tasks done, then I can take a day off. Sometimes I am more motivated to push through and get work done because I know my day off is coming, and I want to not have unfinished tasks hanging over my head.

  2. SarahW April 24, 2019

    I love that this chapter emphasized that Sabbath should be a delight. I also appreciated the guidance of understanding Sabbath as an orientation to time instead of something we try to squeeze in our already busy schedules. I agree with Rachel that a preparation day is so helpful to actually making Sabbath happen.
    I also so appreciated the reminder of my humanness – I am creaturely. That is, I am a created being. Needing Sabbath is part of my design. It also allows me to recognize the ways that I am not God. As Barton writes, the world does not stop when I do. I need to recognize that I am not as necessary as I like to think that I am. It is also a reminder of my sonship. When God set the people of Israel free from slavery, He gave them the gift of Sabbath. Slaves do not have the freedom to take a day of rest, but sons do. A teacher in seminary encouraged us to consider if we weren’t keeping Sabbath, were we still slaves? and if so, slaves to what? Questions I am still chewing on.
    I agree with Barton that the Jewish tradition of Sabbath carries a richness which is missing in the Christian practice. I have found Marva J. Dawn’s book “Keeping the Sabbath Wholly” to have provided helpful guidance as I continue to develop my own rhythms of rest.
    When I was overseas I used to intentionally take Wednesday morning as my Sabbath time. I would often make a cup of coffee, journal, colour, maybe bake something. I did not do language study or schedule meetings. Sundays were a heavier day especially once attending the national gathering – a whole different vocabulary was needed just to follow what was going on around me. I am homeside now and still working out as a family what our Sabbath practice should be with a little one in the house. A practice in progress.

    1. Phyllis April 25, 2019

      I have been doing well with Sabbath for myself for a while. Right now I’m on intense extended Sabbath, as I lie here in the hospital. I thought her description of savoring books and food and hugs was beautiful, and that’s exactly what I’m doing these days.

      I have had a hard time with family Sabbaths as our kids have gotten older. They’re usually rushing around, doing stuff with their friends, serving at church, from morning to night on the weekends. They love all that and don’t want to give it up, but I also can’t let them take a day off during the school week. So far, my compromise is to try to make Mondays a little slower.

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