Yesterday, after the morning at church, and a couple of hours with a friend having a very large cup of coffee, I spent about four hours lying on my sofa. I read a magazine I had been wanting to get to; I flipped through my new 75th Anniversary edition of The Joy of Cooking; I made a few thank you notes out of colored card stock and rubber stamps; and I ate three broken chocolate chip cookies. I had the TV on, and would occasionally pay attention to it, and once or twice I dozed off to sleep. Last night, as I was getting ready for bed, I felt like I had rested.
Yet there still was a nagging thought: is this what Sabbath is like in the 21st century?
Over the past several months, I have read numerous books, articles, and blogs all promoting the idea of Sabbath. I even wrote about it briefly in one of my Advent meditations on my website back in December. I am increasingly drawn to the rhythm of six days of work and the expectation of a day of rest. But I continue to wonder how to really make Sabbath observance a spiritual discipline in my life.
Here’s where I always fall short:
1.) Because I need a lot of time alone to feel rejuvenated, the siren call of Sundays is to hunker down under a blanket by myself for hours. Yet I know that Sabbath is also about community.
2.) Which brings up another point. As a single person, how do I spend time resting with others? No one else lives at my house. Going out to eat means doing things like every other day; having a group of people over is just plain work.
3.) I have been leaving my computer off for Sundays, but I have a hard time not turning on the television. Yet, even though I can turn my mind off in front of the TV for some mental R&R, I’m not sure spending hours watching the thing is really the rest I need.
4.) Most of all, how can I maintain my focus on the Lord while I’m transforming into a sloth?
5.) And really practically, should I start my Sabbath on Saturday evening or Sunday morning? And if getting up early for my 8 a.m. Sunday School class doesn’t feel very restful, does it mean I should give it up?
Many of the books I’ve read about Sabbath broach these subjects, but never to the level that helps me overcome them. I was wondering if any of you have Sabbath rituals that draw you into a day of rest. Do share.