“I think we need to cancel our summer vacation,” I tell my husband H. And when I hear myself say it, heat rises into my cheeks. I can’t believe I just admitted that out loud.
It’s nearly noon on a Saturday but we’re still sipping coffee and tea, reading morning headlines from our warm spots in bed. And his response to my bold admission releases the tension I’ve been holding, like the slow leak from a pinprick on a balloon.
“I agree,” he affirms.
Two years after we moved to London, we began dreaming of a European summer vacation. We created whitespace on the calendar, made phone calls to friends, researched airplane tickets, planned site seeing, and narrowed down accommodations. But instead of being excited, the anticipated vacation started making us feel more tired.
Our shared vulnerability led us to cancel the entire trip. Because what we really needed in that busy season of life was more rest and less activity. More Sabbath and less vacation.
Sabbath is like a vacation in that it is time set apart and different from the norm in the spirit of ease and togetherness. New places and experiencing life differently; more feasting, playing, and lingering; less restrictions, responsibilities, and rushing. But the shift to summer’s ease can be sneaky when it comes to creating space for restorative rest.
If you haven’t practiced the Sabbath pause during weeks prior to a planned escape, a holiday transforms into a hospital for the soul–a hospitable place that becomes a signpost declaring, you have lost your identity.
I gave them laws for living, showed them how to live well and obediently before me. I also gave them my weekly holy rest days, my “Sabbaths,” a kind of signpost erected between me and them to show them that I, God, am in the business of making them holy. Ezekiel 20:11-12
Sabbath is about being with God while vacation can often mutate into more doing and leaving God at home. So, what if we made summer into the business of becoming more holy? A kind of signpost over our homes declaring this summer is about living well and enjoying God.
Two summers ago, when we cancelled those vacation plans, we stayed closer to home on a beach in Cornwall. We enjoyed lingering long, reading books, ambling walks, painting on the porch, and eating meals out in a quiet seaside village. Present to the presence of God, we arrived back home with clearer perspective.
In a destination city, you may not open a laptop, cull your inbox, set an alarm clock, or cook dinner, yet remain just as busy and distracted as you are on a normal workday. Busyness can look a million different ways keeping mind, body, and soul in continual unrest.
So, how do you find the spirit of Sabbath during the ease of summertime? How do you incorporate rest with kids under your feet 24/7? How might rest look even when there are meals to prepare and clean up? How do you meet with God when your spiritual rhythms are all out of whack from travelling? How do you get away for fun and return home feeling more rested, more like your true self again?
Give Yourself Permission
Let go of vacation ideals and the guilt associated with not meeting up to them. Rest and guilt cannot co-exist. Adopt “I don’t do guilt” as your vacation mantra.
Ask for Help
All the little details make a vacation sweet but planning, preparing and producing the details can make a getaway a bitter resentment. Asking for help makes rest realistic. Ask guests to make their own breakfast and lunch. Ask others to clean-up in the kitchen or on the beach. Ask for an allowance of time during each day to breathe, pray, and think in silence.
The way you rest is unique to how God created you. If solitude is required for inner peace but you abide in a house full of people, find a few minutes to distance yourself from the noise. Without guilt! Read a chapter of a book before dinner – in the bathroom if you must. Take a nap while kids nap. Or enjoy a brisk run before the sun goes down. Plan time periods for quiet conversations with God throughout the week.
Adjust spiritual rhythms in summer with Lectio Divina and breath prayers. From reading chapters of scripture to focusing on a few short verses. Savor the words slowly. Listen to what God is saying to you through the text. Meditate, memorize, repeat, and rest in God’s embrace.
While waiting in line at Disney World, sitting in the back seat of a taxi, or navigating the tube to your next destination, practice breath prayers. What do I mean by that?
Pray a short scripture verse on the inhale and exhale. For example: Inhale — In returning and rest you shall be saved. Exhale — In quietness and confidence shall be your strength. (Isaiah 30:15) You may not be able to pause inside a church, kneel or close your eyes, but you can pray anywhere, at any time and God will meet you.
Remember what it means to be a child again. Practice the art of being when you are prone to fall back into more doing. Savor an ice cream cone. Read a novel instead of non-fiction. Explore a new place just for the fun of it, not for what you can learn from it. Watch birds flit from branch to branch. Avoid the mirror and cell phone . . . for days, not only a few minutes.
True inner rest isn’t a result of changing your circumstances, but an outcome of changing your focus to God’s presence.
From June through August, join me for the Sabbath Society Summer Series, a weekly letter that slides quietly into your inbox, exploring what it means to really rest when life lacks routine and the days become unpredictable. Every Friday receive a short letter from Yours Truly with some practical life hacks based on real-life questions from the Sabbath Society community. Subscribe here.
And join me on Patreon for weekly inspirational podcasts under ten minutes in length. A short story, scripture, reflection, prayer, and practical support that keep God’s signpost of Sabbath in the forefront rather than as an afterthought.
For the first two weeks in June, I’ve made a few posts on Patreon public, giving the curious a glimpse of the beauty you’ll find there. And as a bonus, I’m hosting a giveaway during that time—a FREE one-hour coaching conversation with me for one of my patrons. That’s a $150 value! Whether you feel stuck, are navigating a life transition, or need a guide to help you find your unique Sabbath rhythm, I would love to help you reach breakthrough. Go over, become a patron, and enter the giveaway explained on Episode 19 (only visible once you become a patron)!