Tuesday, September 8, 2009
Moving Towards a Sabbath
Sometimes at the end of the weekend, Ben and I look at one another, and can just exclaim, "That was perfect." We feel rested, rejuvenated, connected. We do not feel hurried or anxious or stressed. We feel ready for the week, and the home is in working order.
And then there are the weekends that are not like that. When we end the weekend feeling more stressed than when we began, when the weekend flew by without what felt like true relaxation, when the week has not even started and already we feel overwhelmed and tired and ready for another weekend.
So lately I've been trying to be more mindful during the weekend to try to figure out: why are some weekends pure bliss while others are chaos? What's the recipe for the perfect weekend?
I certainly haven't "figured it out." With five sentient beings in our household (more if you count the ants), there are just too many variables to pin anything down. But, I have come to the conclusions that weekends when we have one "sabbath" day seem to go more smoothly. We are much more likely to feel joyful and rested at the end of them than weekends when we are "go go go."
Like some other mothers out there, I don't feel like our family functions very well on strict schedules. There are rhythms to our life, but they can't be written out on a chart because they are natural and irregular and varying. So I don't think our family will ever observe a hard and fast Sabbath where the electricity is out and we do no work at all and we have twenty four hours of peace. But, if we can carve out some semblance of Sabbath, it works just as well.
When we set aside a day without any social engagements, without any entertaining, without any trips (once restful but now with two kids anything but) and without any errands, it is like balm to the soul. On days like this we might bake at home, go for a walk and visit with neighbors, read together, take a nap, sit outside, work in the garden. Not strict "sabbath" rules, but what qualifies as rest for us. We might watch a video or just be silly together.
I love the book Miriam's Kitchen, which is the story of one contemporary woman who journeyed into orthodox sabbath keeping. Her description of Friday night, when her whole family would sit around a table in a clean home and enjoy an intentional meal by candlelight, is absolutely beautiful. There are no chores to worry about (because by some miracle she finished them on Friday), there are no sleepovers or playdates. There is simply a single family spending sacred time in one another's presence and in the presence of divine. This is what I'm dreaming of, the destination of my pilgrimage.
How do you keep Sabbath? What are the rests that give you strength and energy?