Learning the Sabbath

So, it’s not as easy as it seemed to learn to slow down, relax, and pay attention to the deeper aspects of life. Having had four days in a row with very little to do, I am now sure it is possible and very easy to waste time. I seem to be able to distract myself from what is deep with many, many things. But then again, I do feel my body starting to unwind…

Are there rules to resting? Is there a right way (and, therefore, a wrong way) to relax? The words, “Honor the Sabbath Day and keep it holy” have been running through my mind. What, exactly, does it mean to honor a day of rest and keep it holy? What would be a profane use of it? Watching the Super Bowl? Playing video games? Doing nothing and just letting time pass by without a plan or even an effort to manage it? I have to admit to having done all those things. Did I dishonor my sabbath time?

I have been going to church, and that has been good, if a bit awkward. It’s strange to be a minister in the pews. Many of my friends and colleagues go to this church, so there is no real way to keep quiet about being a minister. Besides, as soon as anyone asks me where I’m from or what I do, I tell them. I just don’t want to lie or even obfuscate the truth. So I never fully get to be *just* a congregant, there for my own worship needs. But that’s okay. I’m still enjoying it. It’s good to hear new songs and see new ways of doing things. And it’s good to know that I’m not “on”–no one will rush up to me for the answer to a question or to solve a problem. And that is enough. I get to go to church knowing that I am not there for everyone else, but for me.

I’m still a little homesick, but am realizing that’s okay too. It’s good for me to miss the people I love and to miss the community I am called to serve. It’s good for me to understand, in a new way, how valuable they are. It’s good for me to learn to transform homesickness into gratitude and appreciation. And it’s good for me–very good–to have this time of learning to honor this sabbath.

4 thoughts on “Learning the Sabbath

  1. Sean, I have a distinct memory of waking one morning THREE MONTHS into my sabbatical and realizing that I finally felt rested. I suggest that there isn’t anything particular you need to do to honor the sabbath; just rest, sleep, do whatever you feel like doing, and one day you will realize that you are rested.

    Clearly you are paying attention. That is the most that one could expect of you. Be good to yourself.

  2. I think Sabbath can be whatever you need it to be.

    As to what would profane your Sabbath – well, how about only that which prevents you from the renewal you need on that day? If you get renewal from video games, play on!

    I find it to be about giving yourself permission to do what you need, and not thinking about what might be “expected.” Sometimes, a day without a plan is just right; other times a plan can be useful. But listening to your own heart is the most important part.

  3. I think the key isn’t in the word “Sabbath” at all but in the rest of the verse…it says honor the Sabbath day and keep it holy. And I remember your sermon, and our discussion on the Worship Committee retreat, about being Holy, Wholly and Holey….I think it needs simply to be about how you, for yourself, define being holy, keeping a day wholly, leaving room for what is holey….no matter how you spell it, it is about integrity. And that is another of those words….No matter how you define or apply that one either…. (~_*)

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