Sabbath: the seventh day of the week observed from Friday evening to Saturday evening as a day of rest and worship by Jews and some Christians; often observed on Sunday among Christians as a day of rest and worship; a time of rest; abstaining from work
There is simply something about summer that leaves me yearning for quiet, slow, sunny mornings and extra time under the stars late at night. Somehow, exploring Sabbath rest comes more easily in the summer. The days get longer and time seems to slow down, even though my task list, chores, and never ending ideas continue no matter the season. Yet, summer days help me embrace the concept of Sabbath a bit more freely than other times of the year.
I don’t know about you, but my Sabbath time is not often scheduled on one set day of the week as the definition suggests. Since my retreat and workshop work often continues throughout the weekend, it’s challenging to always find Sabbath on Sundays. Many of us work varied hours, and those of us who are caregivers or parents know this type of work cannot be unscheduled on certain days. Those who work in the church or other ministry settings often share with me that Sunday is far from a day in which they abstain from work. Can we, too, discover Sabbath rest and might it be easier than expected in the summer?
Amidst the ongoing duties of life, new rules seem to take effect in the summer for our family. Or, maybe it’s less rules? A teen who calls to stay over and spend the night at his grandmother’s house rather than come home (he knows his room looks like a tornado hit and avoids this duty at all costs), yet I agree. A newsletter that has a deadline, but instead, a yoga mat, some homemade kombucha, and a lovely back porch (from where I cannot escape the loud construction of a new home next door) call more loudly and I easily unplug. And a day that should have involved household cleaning - instead I find myself loading my Kindle with tons of library books. Free fiction and summer - that’s my Sabbath.
Today I sat in silence and wondered - rest and worship come easy for me. Yet why is it sometimes hard to abstain from work? Is it because there are so many great ideas brewing in my creative heart? There are not enough hours, even on a long summer day to tackle everything God has planted inside me (and the stuff I avoid too, like laundry). How do I step away from "work" and lean in to my own soul care? Here are five soul care tips for exploring Summer Sabbath:
This summer I am definitely not tossing my ideas or creative spirit - these are not work. I am exploring Sabbath rest and discovering time apart from work (like my computer screen) more freely. I desire to embrace soaking up the sun, sleeping plenty, keeping safe boundaries for my social media time, savoring my senses, and discovering plenty of silly fun! Will you join me in this and keep me accountable as well?
What does your summer Sabbath look like? How do you make space away from your work? Is that easy or difficult in this season of summer?
By the way, I was inspired to write this post as one of my fellow Upper Room authors, J. Dana Trent, is releasing a book on the topic of Sabbath this fall. I’m excited to dive in (I might just get a sneak preview, one of the perks of “working” alongside her). Yet reading her words will not be work for me. Sabbath, this summer I’m ready to embrace you! Stay tuned for the release of For Sabbath’s Sake!
In our county, kids have not seen a full week of school in over a month. From ice and snow to more snow and ice then fast forward to "Spring Break" - you could say life has been less than routine. I found myself getting irritated and short tempered. I could not figure out how "not doing anything" made me so tired (note the sarcasm, parents). I saw the posts on-line that begged for Calgon to take every stay-at-home and work-at-home and even work-outside-the-home parent to another time and place each time a school cancellation was announced. And yet, I truly wondered why I was so tired and what was it we all wanted to flee from during this break? Why did we have to be entertained? Why couldn't we just find rest? Why couldn't I rest?
It didn't make sense. The extras disappeared and we had a bit more forced space. Nature gave us a "time out" for rest and yet I was spinning my wheels rather than settling in to the space. I am a planner. So, it's quite likely if notice had been given, I would have been prepared and more mentally ready to rest. But it was not expected and I struggled. Why is it we struggle to settle in to the unplanned empty spaces in our lives? What seemed like a loss was really a gain. And, I did not take full advantage of that fact.
Now the rest transitions back to life and as I prepare to return to routine and all the commitments that accompany it, I found myself briefly getting anxious. Why? Let's be honest, the routine kicks in and the busy quickly follows - and busy is not pretty either.
Why are we so busy and why is there no in between? What is it we seek with what fills up our calendars? Why when those calendars are unexpectedly empty, do we feel lost? Are we addicted to busy?
I don't attend yoga class to make use of comfy pants. I don't attend worship to visit with my friends. I don't take my son to Scouts and basketball so his agenda is full. I don't schedule time to date my husband in order to seek out a good meal. I don't visit family or friends because I need or want something. I don't teach or plan retreats or lead or write or volunteer for recognition. So, why then? Why do I do the things that fill up my calendar? Why do you?
I've struggled with being vs. doing for much of my adult life. And thankfully, I hear permission from God that it does not have to be one or the other. We can be with God amidst our doing, we can find rest.
Here are some reminders for myself in this season, maybe for you too:
During likely one of the most challenging times in the life of Moses, God told him this, "My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." (Exodus 33:14, NIV)
Every time I start to get overwhelmed, I am reminded to rest. And yet, my initial response is that I have too much to do to rest. You know the drill. The kids, the job, the house, the family, the friends, the church, the place you volunteer down the road, or even the shelter downtown - they ALL need you!
Guess what? They do need you! Without you, there will be no one to fold the laundry, help with homework, kiss the boo-boos, build friendships, give to the church, or volunteer in the community. But, here is the big news flash! You don't have to do it all at once and you aren't expected to do it all when you are exhausted.
We need rest. God designed us to rest. The Creator even rested. God tells us that the Creator will give us rest! So, why do we think that we are special and we do not need to rest? If you are guilty of forgetting to rest and take care of yourself, you are not alone. This has been a skill set I have been working on for quite some time. What is interesting is that many of us simply don't know where to start. Most of us have not been modeled rest or taught well how to rest by our society.
So, I'm sharing some small changes I've made to incorporate rest in my life and hope that by sharing my list it may help you to expand your list. Read it through, get some ideas and get some rest!
You may think that it is impossible to get away with God and find rest in today's society with all that is resting on your shoulders. But, it really is possible. And, in the long run, you may just find you are more productive. Or, you may find that the less important things in life just fall right off your list. What gives you rest?
I'm signing off to go stretch and then sleep while the dishes await! Happy rest!
Whitney R. Simpson
yoga & meditation teacher
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Whitney R. Simpson
Exploring Peace Ministries, LLC