When I opened the door of the china cabinet to carefully pull a platter out among the crystal and silver, the Shabbat candlesticks caught my eye. H picked them out for me while on a trip to Israel a few years ago.
He stopped suddenly on his jaunt through the living room when he saw me holding them up to the low afternoon light filtering through the window making the blue glass translucent. “Hey, why haven’t you used those,” he asked. That’s when I got the idea.
Observe true Sabbath. Every week.
On Saturday, as the sun began its descent, I stopped packing ornaments in attic boxes, put the candlesticks on the island in the kitchen and watched the light flicker toward peace. Left dishes in the sink, vacuum parked next to the empty Christmas tree, sat down and closed my eyes to welcome rest.
And a few hours later, while I lounged in front of the television with my family sans a computer on my lap, I turned to H and admitted, “This is so hard for me.”
Oh I had the lists rolling through my mind of things I could be doing while sitting there: Addressing thank you notes, organizing my editorial calendar, responding to comments and emails, making grocery lists. But I let it all go. To watch the Notebook for the cazillionth time.
“I know,” he said, “But this is good. It’s the first time you’ve been engaged with the family like this in a while.”
His admonition alone makes observing Sabbath worth every minute but it’s about more than just engaging with my family. I’ve noticed it in the summer, during our two week family vacation and over our Christmas break. The way joy and perspective return in seasons of intentional rest and break from routine.
For most of my life, Sunday ends up being a weaker version of the rest of the week. I take a nap or read a book after church but I’m usually pulled like a magnet to productivity after I’ve had those few hours to rest. And Sabbath isn’t about resting so I can be more productive. It isn’t about me at all.
Sabbath is the beholder of beauty. The binoculars capturing the panoramic view behind the Plexiglas wall of creation, where time stands still long enough to see grains of sand without touching them.
And I’m thinking if this is something hard for me to do, then maybe it’s hard for you too. So I’m proposing the Surrendering to Sabbath Society. A sisterhood of fellow pilgrims hungering for more of Him.
Want to join me? Observe true Sabbath together this year?
And I know heeding one of the Ten Commandments doesn’t save my soul. But it refines my faith in a meditation of unfathomable beauty. Now instead of resting to make it through the next week, I’m working my way toward renewal, with Sabbath as the destination.
Because one day a week, it’s good to take my hands off creation and remember why I create.
If you are interested in joining me in the Surrendering to Sabbath Society, if you are saying, “Yes, I’m all in,” subscribe here.
What’s in it for you?
Weekly encouragement and conversation with you about making your Sabbath successful. And I’ll share a quote or idea from one or several of you on my weekend post with a link to your blog if you have one. Let’s do this together, shall we?
Inspiration for this post comes from Chapter 1 of Mudhouse Sabbath by Lauren Winner and Chapter 4 of Wonderstruck by Margaret Feinberg. Other reads: Circle of Seasons by Kimberlee Conway Ireton and Rest of God by Mark Buchanan.
My friend Kristin Schell chose Sabbath for her one word this year, then joined with a friend to create 52 Sunday Suppers with family prayers. You have to go check it out!
I’m delighted to join the writing team at Imperfect Prose this year at Emily Wierenga’s place. Today’s writing prompt is Create. Won’t you come over and visit the link up of beautiful writers?
I love all of this. You’ve got much ahead in this new year. The Lord bless and keep you…
I think you are right Deidra. Thanks for walking with me.
My family of five has strived for Sabbath Celebration for a few years now. We don’t always make it but when we do… oh the bliss! Saturday evening to Sunday evening. Lovely!
Sabbath rest is near and dear to my heart as I try to become more and more purposeful. Can’t wait to read more of your journey!
Heidi, hope you’ll consider joining me. Would love to hear your struggles and joys of observing it with your family, successfully or not.
I’d be happy to and am looking forward to it 😉
Heidi, if you want to be part of the little sisterhood I’m gathering, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org so I can make sure to add you to the weekly conversations. Love to have you join us.
Oh Shelly, you won’t regret it. I started practicing Sabbath last Lent and have yet to let go of that 40 day commitment. Because I can’t — it’s got too great of a grip on me.
I can’t believe how much I need it. Even when it gets uncomfortable, it’s still worth it.
I know you are right. I felt so incredibly rejuvenated after just 24 hours. I actually can’t wait until sundown on Saturday. And this week I hope to be more prepared than last. Cooking ahead, etc.
(Thinkin on this one, Shel. What a conversation you have started.
Will be getting back to you . . . thanks.)
I haven’t pushed it on my family but I’ve told them what I’m doing and it created a holy hush and spirit of rest over all of us. My husband is really supportive too. I think in the end, it will be good for all of us. But you do have to be committed because, as you know, so many things to pull you away.
Shelly…thank you for the reminder to STOP and rest. I so yearn to sit at his feet everyday, and especially to stop and take one day of rest. To give myself permission to read, listen, work on a fun project and not feel like I am not accomplishing work.
It’s amazing how it can rejuvenate you Robin. And I’m not creating at all. No cooking, projects, etc. I may take a walk or read, pray, go to church, etc.
Shelly, the link you have for imperfect prose doesn’t seem to work?
Thanks for letting me know Pam, I fixed it. You are awesome.
I’m with Kelli…this just landed on my heart like a peace blanket and I’m thinking it might be what is missing from my ability to keep it all together lately.
I want to think about this, ponder it, and be all in if I decide to join you. Regardless, I am very excited to read how God meets you through this practice.
Glad you are thinking about it. I feel expectant.
Sabbath is Friday sunset – Saturday at sunset, not on Saturday-Sunday.
Yep, in the Jewish tradition that is correct. However, most Christians do it Saturday to Sunday because we worship on Sunday, not Saturday. And I’m pretty sure God doesn’t care so much about the day as he does that we just do it, take a Sabbath.
Ahhh, I believe YHVH cares very much that we follow His commands.
I love Sabbath! From way, way back. But I’ll tell you, in our world — in our Christian corner of our world, you have to fight for it. At least I have. You have to fight your own ambitions and distractions as well as family and church and neighbor traditions and maybe a hundred other things, whichever day you consider Sabbath… But ahhh, it’s worth it! When I married into to a (very active) Christian family, I was stunned at how little sabbath they (and now I) had. I had to work toward it by progression, one thing at a time, for myself, mostly leaving those overactives to their busyness that was so ingrained, but over time the restfulness of God’s rest caught on, and now, so many years later, we do usually get our Sabbath.
(On cooking ahead, in the last few years, I’ve found it easiest, when possible, to prepare a big meal for Saturday that can be reheated or repurposed for Sunday. Yes, “leftovers,” but they can be jazzed up a bit. I really like when I can do this!)
I love that you just stopped. Stopped packing the ornaments, walked away from the dishes, took your hands off the vacuum.
Just. Stopped. Still.
I knew if I didn’t, I wouldn’t observe it fully. And I can’t stand doing anything half way. Plus, my husband was keeping me focused which helped a great deal. 🙂
I find this so hard as a mother who is at home 24/7, so often sabbath time is interpretted as being time in which you’re present to your family, but that’s what I DO all day long and far into the evening. I guess maybe it would be helpful for me to interpret sabbath as a time in which my family and I (as a community of faith) enter into a different mode of being, but as an introvert, I long for time apart to recharge.
Just yesterday I heard someone define the work week as a time for “mastery” and sabbath as a time for “receptivity.” Blessings on your experiment!
Yep, I get that Kelly. Luckily, when it comes to this I’m the only extrovert in my house so my family loves being quiet and alone for hours. I haven’t pushed this on them but I have explained what I’m doing so they will honor the commitment. Can you huddle away in a room or porch or take a walk somewhere for a few hours. I’m not alone the whole time myself, just for a few hours and then we do things together that aren’t project/work related. They know I’m not cooking or cleaning anything either. It just stays there until sundown on Sunday. And I’m trying to be good about preparing a few days ahead for it so I’m not tempted by things left undone.
Oh sweet Sabbath Sister! I’m so grateful to be sabbath-keeping with you this year. I love your description of a holy hush. I call them Sabbath Moments and even when I’m not in the sundown-to-sundown time, the Lord is giving me eyes to recognize His rest, His sovereignty, and His provision. Sometimes these sabbath moments happen in the most un-sabbathy places – like carpool line! But, it all stems from the practice, really the discipline, of stopping, breaking normal and offering space for God to meet us. Sign me up, friend! And, thank you for including me in your journey.
Thanks for all the encouragement, all your tweets and shares. So excited to be doing this with you Kristin.
Love it! And I think God loves it too. The Sabbath is so very near and dear to His heart–this gift he gave us to rest from our work, acknowledging that he is always at work, and we can trust him with whatever nagging thing we think we need to be doing. Love that you and Kristin are on the same page here. God is at work. I can just feel it.
Me too Nancy, I can feel God at work in this too. Thanks for your encouragement.
A couple of months ago I started a Sabbath practice. It’s really, really hard for me, too — but good, really, really good.
Same here Michelle, really, really hard and really, really good. That is why I’m committing myself to it. Hope you are feeling better.
Yes, the need to stop pulls at me as well. I’m in, that is unless it becomes another “doing”
Nope, no more doin’ here. It’s the last thing we need isn’t it? One more thing to do.
I took a big scary step, that someday soon I’ll write about, that puts me so much closer to this. And reading this today, I felt that holy nudge….perhaps more of a holy push. I’m in. My soul has been crying for a Sabbath. Thank you for this!
So glad you are joining Brenna. Welcome!
Shelly, I love your willingness to surrender to the Lord and observe the Sabbath, as He draws you to do so. Can you tell me a little more about what you will be doing (or not doing) and if you are asking us to do the same or to let God speak to us individually about what to do (or not to do)? I”m very interested. I coudln’t quite tell from the post (beautifully written, I might add) exactly what you are doing. Are you simply saying to do no work for a 24-hour Sabbath? Are you purposely seeking God in quiet time and reflection alone and with your family, including worship time on Sunday? I am hardly trying to sound legalistic here–whatever–promise! I’m just trying to understand and apply. I have also been praying about taking a “radical Sabbatical” for 40 or 50 days. A friend of mine did this last year, and it was life-changing for her. She simply let God lead her, and her main longing was to seek intimacy with HIm. In so doing, she read His Word, prayed, journaled (for her, a type of praying), took long walks, didn’t watch TV or read email or Internet, didn’t listen to radio, etc. I know when I do personal retreats, not being distracted by noise of any sort is a great enhancement to being still and knowing that HE IS GOD! Anyway, looking forward to hearing from you……and I am probably in, but just wanting to know a little more. God bless you, precious Shelly, for always seeking more of Him. (And I agree……Sunday is a fine Sabbath day!) Oh, BTW, you and your readers might be interested in wonderful author Karen Mains’s book, Making Sunday Special. I read it years ago and remember really liking it. I was so encouraged by how she actually *prepared* for Sunday. I think you would love reading it. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_14?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=making+sunday+special&sprefix=making+sunday+%2Cstripbooks%2C595
Yes, to all your questions. It really is more about encouragement as sojourners than a to-do list. God knows we don’t need more reasons not to rest. I’ll be sending a weekly email with ideas and encouragement that people can choose or not choose to respond to. My hope is that we will encourage one another through our own struggles and failures during the year. Is Karen Mains related to David Mains? Just curious.
Shelly, I re-read about Sabbath Society just now from your link in the email about your new book! Can you believe you have a whole book about Sabbath about to be released?! Look where the Lord has taken this message!! Anyway, I had never seen your question here. Yes, Karen and David have been married for many years. They are still active in ministry together.
Lovely post that connects so well with what I’m doing with Sacred Pauses: spiritual practices for personal renewal. I already get so many emails that I’m not able to sign up for one more, but I’ll follow your blog and on Twitter, and hope to journey with you that way. Thanks!
Great to have you as a sojourner April. I understand about the full email box. Believe me!
yes, i am totally joining you. love you friend.
So glad you are joining us Emily.
Hey Shelly, I would like to be part of this for a number of reasons which just creates one more list in my mind but sufficient to say, my soul needs it the most these days. Still trying to navigate through the waters being a new parent. Resting sounds mighty good right about now.
Celeste, I will add your email to the list for Friday emails but no pressure to DO anything. God knows a new mama doesn’t need more guilt to DO something else. I hope you’ll find this to be an encouragement, a sort of permission to let go and rest.
Shelly, I love this idea. I need to take a more active role in just having a day of rest and making it so. Sunday evening seems to be the time (when i’m taking care of my friend’s kids and they have been put to bed) that I have that quite time to just reflect and ruminate. I looked up those books you mentioned and have downloaded the first chapters to my Kindle. they look wonderful, thank you for sharing. I look forward to reading about your experience. I’m not ready to say i’m all in…but its definately working on me 😉
So glad you are enjoying the books. I love all of them and revisit each one often. And happy to have you along the journey in what ever way works best for you.
This is so what I need right now. I heard about it on Heidi’s blog entry this evening!
How exciting Shelly,
I Love the concept. Thank You for your inspiration!
Bless & be Blessed.
Hi Shelly, I put in my email address a few years ago, maybe 2 but I’m not sure if it just quit or if it was one of those times I cleared out everything. Anyway, I got your email today and I preordered your book a month ago I think so I’m waiting on it from Amazon and I’ve been observing the Sabbath every Saturday for about 2 years now. I love it and the freedom I have for that day, no work or worrying about what needs to be done. So thank you because you got me into this quiet and peaceful day.