[Drum roll] It’s a contest!
Sabbath in the Suburbs is going into its second printing, and we’re making a few changes to the front and back matter. We also know there are a few typos in it, despite many, many, many smart people looking it over.
Just for fun, and to make the book better in its second printing, we’re enlisting the wisdom of the crowd. Anyone who finds a typo or small grammatical mistake in the book will receive a set of “To do and to-don’t” post-it notes and will be entered in a drawing for more Sabbath swag.
Typos should be emailed to me by Sunday, February 2 at midnight Eastern time. Please include your mailing address for the post-its and in case you win the bigger prize. I will not share or use your address for any other purpose.
Typos and small mistakes only, please. Clunky writing, we’re stuck with.
With that business out of the way…
I’ve been trying to see as many of the Best Picture nominees as possible. Recently I saw Philomena, which prompted this reflection.
Yesterday morning I took a look at my week, with several evening meetings, a Saturday event, and teacher workdays on Thursday and Friday, and decided that the opportune moment had arrived. So that’s how I ended up seeing Her, a very interesting Spike Jonze flick, at 11:15 a.m. on a Wednesday. There were four of us in the theater.
I hope to write about the movie itself one of these days, but since then I’ve been reflecting on the experience of a mid-week movie:
I felt the need to justify it. When I posted on Facebook that I was going off to see a movie, I felt an overwhelming urge to post The List. You know what I’m talking about—the litany of meetings, chores and tasks that must be long enough to justify taking any time off. (You may notice I snuck in the list in a previous paragraph when describing my inner monologue.)
I find this attitude to be pretty pervasive. Some of us are driven by the desire to be useful, so when we take some time for Sabbath, or just a movie, we feel guilty. That’s me. (To be honest, part of what gave me “permission” to practice Sabbath so intensely a few years back was knowing that I’d have to write a book about it.)
Others of us have a more easy-going temperament that doesn’t heap guilt on top of leisure. But even those folks recognize we’re living in the remnant of the Protestant work ethic, so they often justify their time off as well.
Until the language of Sabbath takes hold in our larger culture—and frankly, I’m not holding my breath—this will continue to be a struggle. But what’s great about the Sabbath is that it’s a gift of grace, not dependent on our deserving it.
I often laugh with groups over the verse in Genesis in which “God finished all God’s work” and created the Sabbath. Must be nice to finish everything, we all chuckle grimly. We are not so fortunate. Which means Sabbath sometimes comes amid half-folded baskets of laundry and emails abandoned in draft form. And that’s OK.
Another learning: Sabbath has consequences. There are many things I should have done with that time instead of slink off to a movie. The rest of my day didn’t magically fall into place because of my Sabbath gift to myself. Yes, I felt refreshed and renewed by my movie-going experience. But taking time yesterday morning meant going grocery shopping at 9:30 p.m. after an evening meeting. Yuck.
That’s not a reason not to practice Sabbath. But I feel compelled to be honest about this. Life is messy. Sabbath doesn’t make it less messy. Sometimes it increases the chaos. It’s still a life-giving practice in spite of this.
(Maybe because of it? Hmm.)
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