So I’ve been thinking about Sabbath-keeping again, and how it’s kept me sane and energized for so many years now. Rich’s sermon yesterday on Slow is Beautiful was a reminder of how important rhythms are to the spiritual journey.
When we recommend Sabbath for people, we don’t give a list of behavioral “do’s” and “don’ts”, but we do give a list of principles (stop, delight, rest, and contemplate), and filters for each person to decide what they will – and will not- do (e.g. do things that bring you joy, don’t do things that feel like work). It’s certainly a work in progress, but man, once I found my formula for an energizing Sabbath, it’s been incredibly refreshing.
First here’s a filter of questions that help keep me centered on Sabbath.
1. Am I more mindful of God?
2. Does this feel restful and unhurried?
3. Is this something I enjoy doing that’s unrelated to my job?
4. Is this relationship replenishing for me right now?
5. Is the place I’m going to replenishing and energizing?
Second, here’s a list of things that I do and don’t do on my Sabbath.
*(My Sabbath is Sunday PM-Monday PM)
– I read more Scripture and I pray more than I normally would. My times with God in the morning are twice as long as during the week.
– I spend most of my time with my wife, which I enjoy. We spend a significant amount of time together, but we certainly have to navigate what kinds of activities we can both do together that’s Sabbath-like (e.g. she likes going to IKEA when it’s less busy on a Monday, but I feel like I’m bleeding a slow death whenever I walk into a store – crowded or not).
– I try to see my nephew Eli (and squeeze and kiss him repeatedly), as well as my brother and sister-in-law.
– I try to be home a few hours before Sabbath winds down Monday night. This way I’m not hurried when the activity starts again.
– I watch football. College football highlights, NFL highlights, Monday night football, Sunday night football, any kind of football. Obviously, this practice changes from January-August.
– I go for a walk.
– I write posts on this blog.
– I play sports when I get an opportunity to do so (not sports like ultimate frisbee, because quite frankly, I would die – literally and figuratively).
– I read books (I stay away from heady books or anything I would have read in seminary) and magazines (NY Mag is the most regular) that I like.
– I watch movies or shows on Netflix. Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of The Office. I can’t believe I didn’t discover the show sooner.
– I go out to watch a movie at a theater. This is more of a once in awhile thing, but it’s nice to watch a movie on a Monday in an uncrowded theater.
– I take long, uninterrupted naps.
– I don’t take the train (or drive) long distances or during rush hours.
– I don’t do anything that’s related to work or feels like work (including chores or errands). Sometimes circumstances dictate us to break this principle (e.g. emergencies, kids, the only day the dmv is open, etc), but it’s okay, because Sabbath is a gift, not a yoke!
– I eat something good. Tina and I usually eat out at one place on Sabbath. It’s our opportunity to try a new restaurant or to eat at a favorite place in the city.
– Parks are winners for me, especially in the city. But what’s interesting is that I kinda don’t like going outside the city where it’s ALL green (like hikes, etc). Weird.
– I avoid anywhere I can buy something other than food.
The above list is my filter for a Sabbath in which I stop, delight, rest, and contemplate.
Which prayers, people, practices, and places are ideal Sabbaths for you?