I have a friend–yea verily, one who occasionally reads my blogposts–who will argue with me that if Shabbat is not observed on Saturday, it’s not Shabbat. I think, for a Christian, it can be. Anyway, I practice it on Mondays and I’m still calling it Sabbath.
Two Mondays ago, I had a beautiful Sabbath. I had just got done reading about Sabbath in John Mark Comer’s new book, The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, and I was planning to preach about it the following Sunday, and so I was going to “do it right” that week; no social media at all (frequently I don’t make the full 24 hours), no errands, no shopping, no housework.
I’ve started this new thing where, on Sabbath when I read my Bible, instead of journaling about it, I try to illustrate some aspect of what I read–I have more time, and it gets me to notice different things in the text than I see when everything’s just verbal. I’ve been reading Jeremiah lately, but also thinking/talking about Jesus’ easy yoke. That day, it so happened that I read Jeremiah 26-29. The combination of those stories/prophecies and Jesus gave me some food for thought…
Then I did two workouts, because I like working out these days, and those have become something of a physical prayer for me these days. Then I mended a very special necklace (I know, that sounds like housework, but in this particular case it was more an act of worshipful restoration; some day I’ll tell you about the necklace, maybe). Then I took a walk and some photos. Then I did some Ignatian prayer exercises. The day was beautiful, I tell you.
Then the rest of the week was ridiculous. Busy, emotionally draining, stressful, migraine-full. I got to Sunday, got up to talk about Sabbath, felt completely scattered…and so was the sermon/workshop. That night I fell asleep exhausted, but then woke up at 2:30 and couldn’t fall back to sleep because I couldn’t shut my brain off about what a train wreck the previous day’s sermon seemed to me, and the things that needed to get done this week, and how maybe, in spite of everything I had just said yesterday, I was going to have to skip Sabbath this week because so many other things were time sensitive… Which was annoying, because not only was Monday my Sabbath, but this particular Monday was also my favorite non-religious holiday: Martin Luther King Day.
I did not skip Sabbath when I got up that morning, but it was a terrible one. I was exhausted, for one thing. And therefore grumpy. But also there were chores I hadn’t gotten to the week before, and an errand to run for the evening. I sat down to do some more Ignatian exercises, couldn’t find the guideline, didn’t want to find the guideline, sat in my bed and sulked. I tabled the time-sensitive work items but fretted about them most of the day. I stayed off social media and consequently forgot Martin Luther King. Which is terrible–that I would need social media to remember it.
Then some friends came over for dinner. Some really good friends who are completely relaxing to be around. We ate good food and drank good wine and laughed and reminisced and the entire world righted itself in that moment of Sabbath fellowship.
The time sensitive work items took care of themselves, it turned out–so thoroughly that I actually found time to observe MLK Day myself on another day of the week. (It was also, unfortunately, a sick day, and I am still sick–but sometimes even a mild illness feels like a gift from God if it doesn’t hang on too long.)
Neither Sabbath reflected any part of the reality of the week which immediately followed it–but maybe that’s because the Sabbath is meant to be the seventh day of the week. (Tuesday is the first day of my week in that case. A new thought…) It’s like the collector of all the stuff, good or bad, that filled up the week before. And if I didn’t intentionally set aside that day to offload that stuff with God, even if I was grumpy, even at Him, I suspect it would simply have snowballed right on into the next week.
Sabbath, y’all. Find a way to take one. Your life might just depend on it. I’m pretty sure mine does.