At 6 o’clock in the evening, I leave my cozy house, walk past women wearing silky dresses parading into a hotel, and join the masses on the tube in London. I arrive at Tottenham Court and walk to Foyles bookshop on Charing Cross. Up each of the five floors, stopping intermittently to peruse shelves smelling of fresh paper.
While attempting to find new-to-me titles culled from social media posts, I glance down at my watch and the hands reveal it’s 6:59pm. I return a book to its alphabetical home on the shelf, walk the final steps up, and scour the café on the top floor until I see the familiar brand written on a t-shirt.
A woman wearing Hope*Writers written in white letters on her black tee catches my eye while in conversation. I order a pot of mint tea and join others seated on benches around a table. We are six strangers and three of us are American. What brings us together from Oxford, Croydon, Purley, and Hammersmith? Love of God and writing. New beginnings are that simple.
Walking back home in the dark, I replay conversation when thoughts are interrupted by a silhouette standing in the doorway across from my house. My French neighbor is taking a routine a cigarette break. Her trip to Paris and my speaking tour in Germany happened since our last conversation.
The first time I met Marianne wasn’t with words but with my heart. While my hands were sinking into dishwater, my eyes were staring out the window watching her exhale and stare into the sky with a faraway look. I knew nothing about her. I assumed she was British and began praying for the stranger living in the flat across the road.
And then one sunny day, while bent over and pulling weeds from the garden, I stood up and there she was, walking down the pavement in high heels, fresh off the train. I pulled the garden gloves off my hands and introduced myself.
“I’ve been wanting to meet you,” I heard the words coming out of my mouth in tandem with my dirty hand reaching out.
Of course, she had to spell her name because the French accent is quite thick, and my American English is hard of hearing. But her sudden change of countenance, from an enigmatic expression to an effusive show of gratitude, affirmed what I discerned in prayer was accurate. And that random introduction has led to a growing friendship, of meeting at the pub for drinks, taking the Alpha course together in French, walks along the Thames, and texting on What’s App.
“Let’s make plans to get together after your writing retreat,” she said, wrapping up conversation under the streetlamp.
The Truth about Loneliness
They say loneliness is an epidemic. And maybe I’ve been trying to belong since I was a latch key kid, arriving home from school to an empty two bedroom on the second floor of an apartment complex in Oklahoma. Watching the world live from a window when I longed to be the open window letting life in.
How do you satisfy an appetite for community when everyone around you is hungry for the same thing?
Loneliness isn’t always about being alone but being alone in the way you view life. How do you belong when the world is demanding that you fit in?
I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life but taking risks on friendship isn’t one of them.
Because sometimes we need kindreds, and then there are other times when people need you to be the kind of friend that simply cares.
The Beauty of Community
Six years ago, I started the Sabbath Society because I was tired of being lonely. Because you may speak the same language but see the world differently, and that makes you feel lonely and exiled from community.
While I was trying to fit in to a culture that wasn’t me, God used Sabbath to show me I already belong. And that one simple word—Sabbath—led to transformation, not just for me, but for many who joined the Sabbath Society in pursuit of rest.
This month, I’m pleased to announce that we’re launching Sabbath Society Circles, taking the online community into in-real-life small groups around the globe. Like my meeting at the bookstore and the encounter with my neighbor, we’re taking the risk to step out of our comfort zones to create something meaningful, starting small and intentional.
Because the best things we harness in life aren’t quick and easy, but slow and steady uncomfortable obedience in the same direction. Creating community starts small and intentional. One little invitation can lead to deeply fulfilling friendships.
A desire for God and a longing for rest is all you need to connect with kindreds in Sabbath Society Circles. It’s really that simple.
Are you looking for a place to belong? Do you long for a community where you can be yourself right where you live? Or maybe you are someone who knows you need to rest but can’t seem to insert rest into your life practically. You have more questions than answers. Sabbath Society Circles are created just for you!
But that’s not all!
In response to numerous requests from readers like you, I’ve published a new book that will take you deeper into the gift of Sabbath, individually and corporately.
Sabbath Roots is the first of several forthcoming Sabbath Society Circle Resources using the spiritual practices of reflection, meditation, conversation, contemplation, and listening prayer, with lots of margin to journal heart responses. Whether you are looking for something that takes you deeper into God’s heart for rest or you are searching for a small group resource that is meaningful and transformative, I wrote this book for you.
Access the New for You to Start a New Season
Purchase Sabbath Roots in the US and on Amazon around the world.
Find out more about Sabbath Society Circles here.
Join a Circle in your area here.
Psst . . . If you don’t find a Circle in your area right now, stay tuned, there are more Circles being formed with plans to launch in January 2020. Interested in joining the Sabbath Society Leaders Circle, hosting a small group in your area? Let’s get the conversation started here.