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.