Sabbath-keeping, for our family, is more about what we do than what we don’t do. For us, Sabbath is about choosing to make time for the things that renew us. Most Fridays, we sleep as long as we want to (in Eliza’s case) or as long as possible (in the case of her parents). We enjoy a leisurely breakfast together. We relax and read the paper on the porch. We sit on the floor and play. Long walks and talks are a crucial part of the day — whether we amble through our neighborhood and down along the river, or venture further for an adventure at our favorite county and state parks. We often have friends over for a meal, or meet at a restaurant for dinner. The main idea of the Sabbath, for us, is to settle into a pace that isn’t rushed.
Of course, the classic definition of Sabbath is a day to refrain from work. There are good reasons for this “rule”, which Bass discusses in chapter 4. Stopping our work is about letting God be God, and allowing ourselves to be shaped by God’s perspectives. Refraining from work allows us to enjoy the goodness of the world and of life, just as God created it. It also helps us to remember (not only on the Sabbath, but the whole week long) that God created us to be free people, not slaves who must work without respite. We are people who can choose to invest our time in what is truly life-giving. We are people called to advocate for the freedom of the vulnerable ones whose labor and lives society exploits.
Our family’s Sabbath practice is crucial to our lives and sanity and our relationship with God, but we aren’t very strict about it. We do “work” on the Sabbath, and we do wrestle a lot with how to define “work”. Do I ever mow the lawn on the Sabbath, or weed the garden? Yes, partly because I enjoy the physicality of it, and find it spiritually enriching. Does Jen run errands? Yes, partly because she relishes doing that all by herself (without a little helper). Are there times when we have simply have to go to meetings or clean the bathroom? Yes. : ), and it is OK.
What about you? How do you respond to idea of a day, or partial day, set aside for rest each week? What do you (or would you like to) make time for on that day? What would be helpful for you not to do?