Thursday is often the day that Robert and I take a look at the weekend and figure out our upcoming Sabbath. Will it be on Saturday, as is traditional for us? (I work on Sunday, of course.) What will the flavor of the Sabbath be given what else is going on? Thursday is a good time to do this advance work, though to be honest, it’s also an ideal that we achieve maybe half the time.
In the spirit of Thursday as a day to look forward, here are a few ways to dip into Sabbath, especially for folks who are new to the idea:
1. Start with where you are, not where you aren’t. If you’re like us, the weekend calendar is already clotted with stuff. Unless you’re in a position to cancel one or more items, you’re going to have to be simultaneously realistic and creative about Sabbath. Realistic: an uninterrupted day-long Sabbath is not in the cards this weekend, so don’t set yourself up for failure. And creative: where are there spaces where Sabbath might peek through? A two-hour window? An evening? An early morning?
2. Live Sabbathly. Over time, Sabbath has become a state of mind for our family, not just a space on the calendar. This means we can do our work in the manner of Sabbath: mindfully and with gratitude. We can go about our errands with greater awareness and attention to ourselves and the people around us. Try it.
3. Turn off, tune out. TV, talk radio, Xbox, Facebook… whatever numbs you, or heightens your anxiety, or pulls you away from the present moment—let it go, for just a little while. (Note that I said these tips were simple, not easy.)
4. Get re-kiltered. I meet a lot of people who say they feel off kilter in their daily lives. Sabbath is a time to get back into balance. Spend all week in an office? Get outside. Extrovert in an introverted job? Connect with friends. Manager of the household? Set aside a block of time in which you are explicitly Not In Charge, either by relying on a partner or delegating to the floor, otherwise known as dropping it. I promise you, there’s a less than 1% chance that the world will come to an end.
5. Focus on food. Food is a big part of the traditional Sabbath. Maybe you don’t even have that two hour window I mentioned in #1. But you do eat, yes? If you do nothing else, make those mealtimes opportunities for Sabbath. Last week at CREDO I attended a lunchtime workshop called “Eating as a Spiritual Practice.” The leader encouraged us to pause before eating, to gauge our sense of hunger, to be grateful for the hands that grew, picked and prepared the food, and so forth. Then we were invited to choose our first bite, to put the fork down between bites, to chew, and to swallow. A few of us got the giggles during this exercise, but it got the job done as far as highlighting the sad reality that we often eat without joy or attention. It’s no wonder so many of us struggle with our weight. So eat with gratitude. Eat with people who are precious to you. Eat alone, because you are precious. Eat slowly. Eat happily. Eat while giggling.
What would you add? Does this weekend include Sabbath time? Say more in the comments.
Image: Another entry in the Sabbath photo contest. Details.