Monday, September 10, 2012

Sabbath-Rules: From No Technology to No To-Do List, How I Am Structuring (and Failing at) Sabbath

I could tell you that I chose this picture because it is peaceful and Sabbath-like, but the real reason I stole this photograph from Matt is because it is a picture of the Walnut Valley River, in Winfield, where I was a year ago today, where I am NOT today, which makes me sad.  Ah Winfield bluegrass, I will miss you! 

Is it lawful to blog on the Sabbath* day?  :)

I've decided to be all Jesus-ish about my Sabbath rules rather than Pharisee-ish.  Jesus healed on the Sabbath.  I am healing on the Sabbath, too.  If I were Jesus I would be healing other people.  Since I am not Jesus, I am healing me, which, as I type those words, sounds incredibly selfish.  However, I am quite sure that I will not be able to gift myself to others until  I have gifted myself with space for Sabbath. 

I meant to write last week about my Sabbath rules.  Today I am going to address that subject, and I would be further along in that post right now if I had not broken Rule #1:

Rule #1: No Technology, with the exception of blogging.  I broke Rule #1 first thing this morning when I automatically sat at my computer as soon as I materialized out from under the red and blue glow of Jack's Spiderman sheets where he and I had been playing Storm Trooper.  I didn't even think about how I had broken Sabbath Rule #1 until I was sitting in church singing a hymn.  I think that remembering the broken rule was my punishment for giggling when I read the typo on the screen during "Holy Holy Moly""Holy Holy Holy."  (That was funny, though.)  Right before I started blogging I checked my email, peeked at Facebook, and sent a chat message to a friend who wasn't even online.  Just this second I hopped into my email account to see if I could figure out the date we went to the bluegrass festival in Winfield last year (Aside: I know it's not the right decision for us to go this year, but my heart has been waxing melancholy and nostalgic the past few days for camping, for the donut truck, for hippies, for music, for taking a shower under an open sky in the back of a semi trailer.  OK, not that last one.  I won't miss Winfield's bathing conditions.)

Rule #2:  No to-do list.  What a security blanket is to some 3-year-olds my to-do list is to me.  I carry my to-do list around with me everywhere.  I panic if I lose it.  I have multiple blank notebooks  scattered about so that I always have paper upon which to scribble my list (or, lately, write out my list in cursive, as I have re-discovered the beauty of script since teaching cursive to Amélie).  If it were socially acceptable for a 38-year old woman to lovingly stroke her cheek with her list or suck on its tattered corners, I would probably do so.   

Rule #3:  Feed my soul.  I read.  I play Storm Trooper under the sheets with Jack.  I sit out on my deck and talk deeply with Matt.  I journal.  I am quiet.

Rule #4: Do all of the day's liturgical prayers, which includes the morning office, the mid-day office, vespers, and compline.  I have been sorely failing at liturgical prayer.  I have been doing, on average, one office a day.  I have noted an increase in the hollowness of my soul as I have slacked in the discipline of liturgical prayer. 

Rule #5: Move slowly.  If you are my neighbor, just pretend that you didn't hear Slave Driver Mama herding her husband and children into the car at 11:20 this morning to make it to church by 11:30.  Moving slowly is incredibly difficult for me.  I am always moving, always striving, always doing.  The faster the better.  Only, faster is not better.  The faster I move the more frayed at the edges I get.  Today I move slowly and hope to stitch back together some of those tattered edges. 

Rule #6: Don't work.  My Sabbath is a day for sweeping up the dusty corners on the inside of my soul, and as such, I need to ignore any dusty corners on the outside of my soul. 

I think those are all my rules.  I feel a little unsettled because I worry that my Sabbath is selfish.  I feel like it needs to be more spiritual or more altruistic or more giving or more...something.  As I sit alone outside on my deck I can hear Matt and the kids inside.  They have just been creating music on a Native American flute and a keyboard.  Now they are sitting on the floor surrounded by watercolors and colored pencils and thick sketch paper and paintbrushes and cups of pigment-stained water.  And I wonder if I should join in their Sabbath.  Is it selfish of me, is it un-Sabbath-like of me, to close the door to their group creativity and create on my own?  Honestly, I don't know.  I think I will ponder and struggle through that worry as I create a Sabbath.  I'm new at this.  I suppose I don't need to be perfect. 

I have a stack of books to read this month, of course.  Here is my list:

The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time by Judity Shulevitz
Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth by Richard J. Foster
Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller

Here are some other books in my stack this month:
In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise by George Prochnik (this is a leftover from last month's venture into silence and solitude)
Still: Notes on a Mid-Faith Crisis by Lauren Winner (This is an amazing book.  Amazing.  Quite frankly, I am reading nothing else until I finish this one.  And I may have to re-read it again, because I have a library copy, and this book begs to be underlined and written in.)
Bel Canto by Ann Patchett.  Beautiful writing.  Lovely book.
Imagine:  How Creativity Works by Jonah Lehrer (So far I have concluded that in order to be creative I need to smoke pot, lay off the coffee, and be bi-polar.)


I am finishing up this post, now, at 9:21 p.m. (although I won't post it until tomorrow because...well, I don't know exactly why).  I am feeling a bit panicky.  My Sabbath is over. 
I need more Sabbath. 
I need more rest. 
Instead of feeling rested and ready for a new week, I am feeling sluggish and worried and anxious.  I am sticking my heels into the last few moments of my Sabbath day and grinding them stubbornly into the earth.  There is something I am not quite doing right in this Sabbath thing, because instead of filling me up and satisfying me it creates a craving for more. 
I wish that a different day of the week besides Monday would ease me out of my Sabbath Sunday. 
I wish I were heading up to bed soon with a peaceful heart rather than a heavy, unsettled one. 
I wonder how to create Sabbath on a Monday. 

*I am of course aware that the traditional Jewish Sabbath is from sundown Friday until sundown Saturday.  While I may consider a sundown to sundown approach,  I think that Sunday is the best day for me to practice Sabbath.

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