Summertime is one of those times that we think should be the easiest to dive into Sabbath. However, it is in this ideal of summertime where the should really hits the fan. (sorry) ‘Should’ is the antithesis of Sabbath. In reality, summertime is anything but restful.
Make a list with all of the reasons this summer has not been restful, or Sabbath-full for you and/or your family.
Consider the life of Jesus. It was the ‘shoulds’ and the followers of The Should that Jesus generally pissed off the most; especially when it came to the Sabbath.
Open up your Bible to the gospels, or do a quick web search. What did Jesus do on the Sabbath? What did Sabbath look like for Jesus and his disciples? If you want more, look further in the New Testament. What did Sabbath look like for Paul, the apostles, and the early church?
Back to summertime…
Personally, my summer has been filled to the brim with events, major life changes, swings of emotion, and even… free time. As with many of us, it is in this free time that I’ve struggled most to recognize Sabbath. If you haven’t followed my writing on Sabbath before now, here it is in a nutshell: Sabbath is about resting in not resting from. So with this perspective, it’s easy to understand how even a vacation or endless amounts of free time may not qualify as Sabbath.*
I am currently in the midst of a few weeks of free time. Perfect for sabbath moments, right?! In fact, I am struggling with this concept. My brain, my soul, is still wringing through so many things that is has not been easy for me to sigh and breathe deeply the life-breath of God. It seems much easier to should on myself about the ways I should be experiencing the gift of Sabbath in all of this free time. Why is it so easy to go there? The problem with all of this shoulding is that it is distracting me from the very real sabbath moments I have had.
Remember Casey? Just today, you had this walk with Lola, looked to your right, and saw three ducks aimlessly drifting along in the water. You stopped your thoughts for a few moments and grasped the scene of easy water ripples, long grasses, and that lovely bush of lavender. Who knows how long that moment was and that is part of the gift of Sabbath, losing track of time, letting go and resting in that moment.
Look at that list you made full of all of the reasons you haven’t had a restful summer… all of the reasons you haven’t experienced Sabbath. On the top of the list, write, ‘To: God,’ or, list all of the other people who have made (or will make) those things happen. This list is no longer yours to handle alone. It is not up to you to do it all, especially all by yourself. Now fold it up and put it in your journal or just throw it away. You don’t need to hold onto it anymore. Take three deep breaths. Say to yourself, “This day is not just mine. I give up the Should and receive the moment as it is.” Close your eyes for a long blink and deep breath. Look up with new eyes to see the Sabbath in the rest of your summer.
There are some things that we cannot simply walk away from, or step out of, even for a moment. Sabbath is not an escape. Sabbath is a grace and a gift. This gift grabs hold of us no matter what realities surround us. Though this may not happen a lot, it happens in such a way our world view is forever changed. When our world view changes, the gift that was only a moment becomes more – it sustains. It sustains us through the realities that strive to hold us down and kill our spirit. Because the gift is not of our own doing, it can remain with us wherever and whenever we remember it. Though we cannot always change the realities in which we find ourselves, we can recognize when this gift and grace of Sabbath reaches us. Receive the moment.
*Note: My qualifications for Sabbath are intended not to be static rules; rather, expression for deeper understanding. I know that my expression and interpretation will not be the same as everyone’s. However, sharing our interpretations are important, not for argument’s sake or so that we may dismiss each other, but because they will only serve to expand our understanding and personal expression.