First published in The Sunday Page, June 18, 2017
Summer as Sabbath
This is the week summer begins. Not just because the Summer Solstice falls on Tuesday, June 20, but because (and probably more importantly) public schools are out this week. I’m sure you’ll notice the difference, as kids show up at grocery stores during the week, when you’re not stuck behind a school bus on your commute, or maybe even in your own home as the couch gets a little more occupied.
Summer has always been a big deal in my life. As the child of two teachers, summer was an important respite for our family. We took the “time off” and would go on long trips, logging miles in the station wagon and then later, the family van, to visit relatives, national parks, and everything in between. These times together formed the basis of a lot of family jokes but also built our collective memories.
The Bible commands us to have one Sabbath day out of the week. There are also Sabbath years mentioned (the whole idea of a jubilee too – see Leviticus 25). But if it seems hard to set aside a day for Sabbath space, let alone a year, perhaps you can embrace a mini-Sabbath, a time for you to rest and recharge much like how my family used our summers.
As a way to lift up Sabbath practices, we provided our families with Summer Kits packed full of resources written to help them slow down and savor summer. Your Worship Notes also feature a small taste of Sabbath Space practices. We want you to find time to set apart this season, to notice bird songs, sip lemonade, breathe deeply, unplug, and enjoy God’s beauty all around.
Sabbath practices bring about restoration when you are intentional about taking time to pause and rest – when you choose to savor beauty, appreciate goodness, and celebrate your blessings. Make your own list of Sabbath Practices. Begin by asking “what brings me life and joy?”
When I was young, we would spend weeks at a time in my Grandma’s tiny house in Missoula, MT. It was magical. Never has a thousand square feet felt so palatial. She kept an amazing garden of daisies growing around the fence of her corner lot. (It was even featured on the local news and in the paper.) My sister and I would pick daisies and bachelor buttons and fashion them into flower crowns to wear. Each night, Grandma would make space in the fridge to store our crowns so they’d keep for the next day. This happened numerous times over the years but what makes it worth remembering, is that it was time set apart, that space was made, that flowers children picked were given a place. That is Sabbath Space. I hope you too will choose the time to make Sabbath Space this summer.
Some Sabbath Guidelines:
1: Don’t Stress out.
2: There is no rule about how often you should practice Sabbath. Do it when you can. No beating yourself up about not doing it more often!
3: Sabbath practices really do work best when all devices are put away and turned off (adults too).
4: Everyone in the household should find a way to participate if possible – even grown-ups!
5: No murmurings of discontent.
6: End your Sabbath practice with a prayer of thanksgiving.
Blessed are You, Lord our God. Thank you for the gift of Sabbath and the restoration it brings. Thank for an open time to pause and savor the beauty of our lives. Help us to appreciate the goodness of this moment. Amen.
Written by Jerusalem Jackson Greer, author of A Homemade Year: The Blessings of Cooking, Crafting and Coming Together
Faith Formation & Service Director