Sabbath

I recently had a Sunday that was as close as they come to perfect.

No alarm clock. Coupon clipping with my lovie man. Brunch with my bestie girl. Lake walk with a sorely-missed-co-worker-turned-trusted-friend. Homemade dinner with Mom and Dad.

I went home after my jam-packed day feeling nourished, loved, rested, and so happy.

It was like I went on a mini-vacation for the day, returning renewed and refilled. You know… how you’re supposed to feel after a weekend.

During our afternoon walk, my friend revealed that many of her recent prayers have been asking for strength, fortitude, or were simply a plea to, “just help me get through this!” Her solution? A commitment to observing the Sabbath on Sundays. She was a few weeks in, and said that she was really enjoying it.

Sabbath: A time of rest.

“When we live without listening to the timing of things, when we live and work in twenty-four-hour shifts without rest – we are on war time, mobilized for battle. Yes, we are strong and capable people, we can work without stopping, faster and faster, electric lights making artificial day so the whole machine can labor without ceasing. But remember: No living thing lives like this. There are greater rhythms, seasons and hormonal cycles and sunsets and moonrises and great movements of seas and stars. We are part of the creation story, subject to all its laws and rhythms.”

-Wayne Muller, Sabbath; Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives

 

Whether or not you align yourself with any particular religion: you are human, which means you need rest. We all do. It’s one of the very basic needs that unites us all. And the notion of intentionally setting aside one day each week for rest struck something deep in me.

I asked my Dad about it while we were making our turkey meatballs, saying how lovely I thought it would be to truly set aside one day each week to relax. He said that in other parts of the world where the Sabbath is held on a more cultural level and more engrained in how the society functions, the Sabbath day is simply used to get together with family, worship, play games, and enjoy meals.

Eat, talk, play, be loved? All day? Umm… Where’s the sign-up sheet?!

We all cultivate, through our choices, the type of lifestyle that we want for ourselves. We make time for the things that we value. We prioritize X over Y, and life spins its yarn accordingly.

Pete and I are pretty different people, but we share one huge thing: we are very good at making ourselves busy. It’s the lifestyle we’ve created. We’ve made commitments to our community, to learning new things, to taking on new challenges, to maintaining our health. These things take up time, and they require continual maintenance. I can’t really imagine letting any of it go, but I’ve also got some big changes headed my way, so naturally I’ve been digging deep to figure out what I need to do in order to make room for the new adventures. I’m also thinking about what shifts I will need to make to my current way of living and, sadly, what I need to let go of.

As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I am an introvert. I treasure space, quiet, and peace. I also value uninterrupted time with the people I love, taking care of my health and wellbeing, and contributing my skills in ways that feel authentic. In looking ahead to the what’s coming my way, I realize that theses are the things I value most of all, and these are the aspects of my life that I can’t imagine willingly sacrificing.

In letting go of some things, I’m beginning to see the value in adding a day of rest to the schedule. It might just be the perfect time to start giving a little more time to the people and things that fill me up and enable me to give back that much more. It might be time for a little more intentional rest and retreat, if only to come back into the world more ready and willing to take on whatever is in store.

What are your thoughts about a weekly Sabbath? Does our culture support it? Is it unrealistic to think it’s possible in today’s world?

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Priorities

I admire list-makers.

The people who enjoy putting their various to-do’s down on paper, who glean satisfaction from checking items off, and who have the diligence to get things done in such a clean and tidy fashion.

I am not so clean, tidy, or diligent with my life.

I make shopping lists when I go to the grocery store to keep myself from coming home without the goods I actually need versus the two-for-$5 bags of sweet potato chips I love, the tasty sounding lemon olive oil in a pretty bottle, and the crunchy cracker mix I eat while I’m still shopping.

I make lists at work of  the little tasks that would fall between the cracks if I didn’t have them written down.

But lists for things I need to get done in my own life? On a day-to-day basis?

Nope, not so much.

I feel constricted by lists, and I get annoyed when they don’t allow for the whimsy and unplanned fun that I get the most satisfaction from. Lists also make me feel stressed out; seeing task after task needing to get done makes me feel defeated and ready for a nap.

But something came over me on Friday morning, and I was a list-making machine. I wrote down all the things I planned to accomplish on Saturday, and felt my excitement growing as I mentally navigated my way through the day. Maybe this is why people love making lists, I thought. Maybe I can be a list person!

A whole slew of errands would take me into the neighborhood where my parents live, so I thought it would be a nice treat to stop by and see them at lunchtime. We used to have brunch together every Sunday, just the three of us, but that tradition trailed off somewhere over the summer. I brought the last of a homemade pumpkin cake to share, and felt so proud that I could incorporate a visit with them into my uncharacteristically list-oriented day.

We sat down for lunch and caught each other up on the basics of what was new and what was coming up. Then a fresh pot of coffee was brewed, the cake was divided, and the conversation found its way to the more meaty bits.

Life has presented some spirit-challenging events for my family over the past six months, and things finally seem to be reaching a place where my parents can catch their breath. We reflected on a few of the recent struggles, and began to articulate what the fresh beginnings emerging from some of the changes might look like. We talked about their newly rekindled love of playing music together, their thoughts about new things to fold into their newly restructured life, and we talked about the delicate art of letting things go. I recounted some recent memories I had of them from when I was in my teens, memories that sent a shock of gratitude through me as I was able to see their generosity and openness through the lens of an adult.

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What had originally been “on the list” to be lunch and a visit with my parents turned into a three-hour spree of soul nourishing conversation. After hugs and a goodbye in the living room that lasted 15 minutes, I got back into my car and reassessed my list. I knew it all wasn’t going to get done. And it didn’t matter to me at all.

For better or for worse, this is what makes me not a list person. Tasks and to-do’s will always take the backseat to an unexpected invitation, the inclination to bake something from scratch, or the opportunity to savor another cup of coffee at the kitchen table with my parents.

Ultimately, I think letting our collective “to-do’s” fall to the wayside for a few hours to spend the time reconnecting was all we really  needed to get done, anyways.

Perhaps someday my life will require me to be more diligent with getting things done.

But not today. And, blessedly, not on this past Saturday.

Do you get excited to make lists? Do you follow through with them? How do you prioritize what gets done in your life?