Nov 26, 2016


An area of my life that I'd like to improve:
I picked up this photo of fiery Sabbath sunset from my friend and former colleague Virle's Facebook page.  When the sun sets on Friday night, we plug in like a device that needs charging. 24 hours later, we should unplug fully charged.  That doesn't usually happen with me.

I tend to interpret the 4th commandment strongly through the lens of the "Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath" and less through a stringent avoidance of "doing your own pleasure."  In my reading of scripture, the only clear Sabbath command is the command not to work (which I have no trouble following--I don't know how people survive without that mandated sanctuary from the crush of the work week.  And I see the reason for the command, rather than a recommendation, given how I often end up spending Sunday despite my plans that I am NOT bringing any work home on the weekend.)  Beyond that, I believe there's a lot of room for interpretation.  I have no interest in judging how others choose to keep the Sabbath. If people want to judge me, well they're welcome to it; it's  not going to matter to me.

That said, I think I could improve how well I keep the Sabbath.  I don't feel guilty, really, so that's  not the motivation.  I just sometimes feel that I don't get as much out of the Sabbath as I could.

I spend a lot of time on social media on the Sabbath, browsing through Facebook, reading e-mail digests from The Week, Esquire, Rolling Stone.  It's funny because I don't even flip through my actual mail subscriptions to Time or Rolling Stone or Esquire on the Sabbath.  But somehow the digital versions have slipped by.  I recently read an article that said Ivanka Trump, who became an observant Jew when she married her husband, Jared Kushner, keeps the Sabbath by staying off her phone.  And I thought to myself, Dang.  I don't do that.   I do these things because they feel relaxing and restful.  But I don't think they really are.  I think I could use the break from the onslaught of politics, current events, entertainment--that is, after all what the Sabbath is supposed to be: a break.

 Also, I tend to enter the Sabbath at sundown Friday evening running behind.  The house is still a disaster, and I haven't finished my grocery shopping.  We end up either attempting to enjoy the Sabbath amidst the carnage of the weekday or cleaning well into the Sabbath.  And never mind, cooking the Sabbath meal before sundown, as my mother did when I was I child.  I often wake up Sabbath morning with the pressure to get lunch fixed before we go to church (In our household, Sabbath lunch is my responsibility). And there are far more runs to the grocery store both Friday night and Sabbath morning than I would prefer.

I often feel stressed throughout the Sabbath, and end the hours somehow dissatisfied.  I think if were a little more careful, perhaps a little more intentional about how I observed the Sabbath, I would feel more peaceful during the Sabbath, and more rejuvenated at the end.

I remember Sabbath in Chuuk was such a retreat.  Our dingy little apartment was always as clean as could be Friday night.  We usually cooked up something special, sometimes sharing with the other student missionaries.  I remember sitting out on the steps on Friday nights looking up at the moon shining through the coconut palms and feeling perfect peace.

 Sabbath afternoon there might be hike up Six Step Mountain after a luxurious afternoon nap.  And most Sabbath afternoons ended watching the sunset on the beach at the Continental Hotel, listening to Rich Mullins on my walkman.  I'd walk back to the campus in the gathering darkness feeling fully charged, and ready for the new week.

I'd like to have that feeling again.  And there are some good things that are a regular part of Sabbath right now.  Most Friday nights the whole family spends time coloring together.

Last night's work.  Ezra did the picture on the left while I worked on the right.

My Sabbath afternoon walks have been a tradition with the boys for years now.  And skyping with my mom and sister every Sabbath afternoon is something I always look forward to.

But I think I'm missing out on a lot.  I'm getting a half charge, when I suspect, with a few adjustments, I could be getting a full one.

Keeping the Sabbath holy, may be a command, but the Sabbath itself is a gift, and figuring out how to keep it well enables me to both fully keep the command and fully receive the gift.

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