Why Summer Sabbath Isn’t the Same – Week 23

by | Jun 14, 2013 | Uncategorized


Sand spits on the back of my legs; shells pulverize beneath my tread as I keep up with her pace. Sweat drips down my back and seeps into the white Monet t-shirt I bought as a souvenir from the National Gallery of Canada before I had kids. Did I mention they are teenagers?

We’re two girlfriends meeting on a week day at the beach, before tourists monopolize the public parking spaces and the heat smothers. Before showers and makeup, cups of tea and checking off the to-do list, we walk briskly along the shore in tandem watching the golden orb lift her sleepy head to welcome the day.

We share ideas about navigating summer schedules with teens through shallow breaths. Years of complaining about kids not sleeping converts to worry about them sleeping too much. Asking questions I never dreamt I would hear from my own mouth. Is it okay to let them sleep until noon? And how late is too late when it comes to bedtime?

If I’m totally honest, there is a part of me that wants them to keep sleeping. I like having quiet mornings all to myself. And it means fewer hours of guilt about having zero plans for them. Did I mention they are teenagers?

Sometimes summer is seamless and swift, like one big siesta you don’t want to end. But it’s not that way for everyone.

While summer is a season to make confetti of schedules and justify indulgences, it can also be a time of dreaded isolation. A whole lot of rest from routine means a wide berth for loneliness to fill in the empty edges. Edges normally crowded with responsibilities and casual conversation on the sidelines.

And Sabbath can start to feel like one more day, just like all the others.

How do we maintain the sweetness of Sabbath when routine isn’t routine? I asked Mark Buchanan.

 First, I try to cultivate a Sabbath heart – an attentiveness to, thankfulness toward, and trust in God. This allows me to practice the presence of God regardless of where I am. Second, I try to schedule mini-Sabbaths – an hour here, two there, maybe half a day – simply to enjoy the creation and its creator. ~Mark Buchanan, Author of The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath

Perhaps these two practices are the prescription for summertime sadness of the soul, with a caveat. Admit you are lonely to a friend.

Do you ever feel isolated in the summer?

May your Sabbath begin and end with the knowledge that isolation may lead to loneliness but it doesn’t mean you are alone. That God may be silent, but he is never still. Remember that your vulnerability isn’t a sign of weakness; it’s a confirmation of courage, a whisper of welcome to a world waiting for a sign of hope.


Links around the web this week on the themes of Rest and Sabbath (maybe its becoming hip to rest):

Don’t Just Do Something by Mark Buchanan

Sandcastles on the Same Side of the Ocean at Unexpected – “Our family is a process, always in process.  I’m never sure how many chairs on the beach we’ll need the next year.”

Being a Closet Radical at Every Bitter Thing is Sweet – “To choose true rest is to believe that beauty often happens outside of what I create with my own two hands.”

What It Looks Like to Have a Cyber Sabbath by Holley Gerth for {In}Courage – “Yes, I need the actual rest on my Cyber Sabbath. But I need the lesson it teaches me about the other six days even more.”

The Value in Catching Your Breath by Deidra Riggs – “We — as is our custom — have tainted the idea of sabbatical. We’ve made it a break from one type of work, in order to attend to another type of work.”

A Life Full of Sabbaths by Lore Ferguson – “But at its core and its very marrow, the work of salvation is rest, Sabbath. It is to say, again and again and again, I rest in You, Lord of Rest. I find my Sabbath in you, Lord of the Sabbath.”


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  1. Jillie

    Well Shelly, it appears I am the first to comment today. I must say, I love your ocean photographs, as always. And your words today. It’s funny, but just last night, as I was checking my calendar, I suddenly realized my husband has only this next week of work before beginning his first 2-week stint of holidays! Yikes! I have much housework to do before next Friday! I like the house to be in order…before we mess it all up again. I know what you are saying, in that my solitude will be interrupted by his presence here. And seeing as we never go anywhere, the T.V will be on from crack of dawn until bedtime each day. I never quite know what to do with myself when he’s about. I like to spend as much time with him as I can, but that only results in getting nothing else done. Bible reading and prayer kind of goes out the window! And my soul becomes parched. And I find myself longing for solitude. I don’t know what I will do when he retires! I’m so used to having my days to myself.
    (My girlfriend, Sandy, now finds herself with a (forced) retired husband. So far, it’s bliss for her, as it’s only been two weeks. But I do wonder how she’ll feel in 6 months or a year’s time. I also fear I’ll not see her near as much as I used to.)
    All this, for me, will require MAKING time for Sabbaths. I’m not really sure HOW I’ll manage it, but I must find a way.
    Also, teenagers DO sleep a lot. I once heard a doctor say this is normal, and even healthy, for young people. He said it’s all part of the hormonal thing and all the changes going on for them. My kids did it too. Enjoy your quiet, solitary mornings, Shelly.

    • Shelly Miller

      You remind me of one of my close friends with this comment Jillie. When he retired she was always complaining that he never left the house. Always under foot and she never had time alone. It drove her mad. We learn to re-adjust and sacrifice in seasons don’t we.

      And yes, I agree about teens needing more sleep. I let them. Well I wake them up by noon. Otherwise they would be up all night. Thanks for being here Jillie, always love engaging with you friend.

  2. Deidra

    You are sweet to include me here. Thank you.

    • Shelly Miller

      Love your writing, love for others to find it too.

  3. Megan Willome

    I wrote a poem about the loneliness of summer last year. Funny, I feel less so now.

    • Shelly Miller

      So glad you feel less lonely this summer Megan. I keep hoping for that too.

  4. Jean Wise

    Again I love this series. I am finding now your words each week, reminds me, refocuses me on this practice I want to deepen. We leave again the end of this week for a two week camping trip. I will try to honor the sabbath. love Mark’s quote by the way. Thanks again for doing this.

    • Shelly Miller

      Thank you so much for the encouragement Jean. It means so much to me that you let me know that it helps.

  5. Melanie Dale

    I’m completely humbled to find my sandcastles post here. Thank you, Shelly. Honored. You’re a beautiful writer.

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