I’d be interested to scroll back through the years here and see how often I’ve written about developing and sticking with a sabbath in our home.
Try, try again.
It could be my life’s motto right now.
But this time. It’ll be different (typed while laughing out loud).
Perhaps it will, perhaps it won’t.
We usually start off well. Sunday night meals that are a little more special. Chocolate cake and wine.
Then Monday morning comes. And with it my mental lists.
But yesterday there was a small victory when Omar and I didn’t sneak work into our day. “Oh, you know we really need toilet paper,” I said out loud, rationalizing to myself that if a family so desperately needs toilet paper then I just must go out. And then if I’m out why not just cross a few more things off of the to-do list?
Omar wisely questioned why I needed to do all the errands right then. I didn’t.
So we went to the zoo. We took the kids out for hot chocolate. I took a brief and beautiful nap. We read. I went out for a few hours with a friend.
I asked Omar why resting is so hard. I mean, really, why does one need to be convinced that a 24 hour stretch of time beginning with chocolate cake and ending with wine with a friend is so torturous?
I’m also trying to sneak sabbath rhythms into other aspects of our lives. Schooling the kids without any scheduled breaks is good for no one. But the traditional 9 week cycles don’t work for me. I’m ready for a break by then. So how about 6 weeks on, one week off? We’re trying it. A sabbath week.
trying to establish a more consistent and calm Saturday evening routine
stories with kids
back scratches with kids
putting kids to bed on the early side
listening to kids read and chat because it’s on the early side
lining them up
folding some laundry
leaving some laundry
coffee waiting for the “on” button
colored bowls all in a row
It took us four years to finally stumble upon Mounts Botanical Garden. It’s nearby, but for some reason when I heard it was between the airport and the DMV, I didn’t think it could be much of anything. When does one find anything good between an airport and a DMV?
But it is good. Beautiful, in fact. And despite the crazy heat, mosquitoes, and haze, we loved it. Perhaps the smaller ones didn’t appreciate it as much, but I’ll win them over when the cooler weather comes later in the year.
Rose gardens, vegetable gardens, fruit trees, ponds. It was all beautiful.
the best blueberry lemon pancakes were made.
paints and smocks and stamps covered kids and tables.
watercolors smudged and dribbled and soaked.
this coffee company was explored and researched.
pistachio ice cream (oh. my.) was consumed by all who came in the door.
farm veggies were delivered.
stir fry was made and devoured by the adults. fussed over by kids.
a house was bought by my parents.
paint chips were shuffled and spread and stared at.
books were read.
blocks were stacked.
vacation is over. tomorrow we go back to our non-vacation routines. aside from our quick trip to miami, our days were spent mostly at home where the hours ran into each other and nothing significant was accomplished. we did manage to swim and visit some sea turtles, and omar braved the heat and took the boys to the zoo.
but the rain kept us inside most days and books kept us occupied. the boys are enjoying Saint George and the Dragon, and we’re almost done with The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. they were also introduced to Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and elisha can now be heard singing “it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…” all around the house.
i continued my reading about the sabbath in the hopes of making it a more integral part of our home. i picked up dan allender’s Sabbath at the library, and while i feel there are some good quotes and sections to pull from the book thus far, much of the book has left me wondering where in the world he’s coming from. “but what does that mean??” was the oft repeated refrain this past week. as one reviewer of the book noted, it seems like much of the book is a stream of consciousness ramble. yet there are some good points. allender focuses on how most of us view the sabbath as simply a “day off” and how that misses much of what the sabbath could and should be. he lists a christian friend’s activities (church, lunch, errands, football, nap, reading, etc.) on a typical sunday and then notes,
My friend’s day was merely time off from work. Eugene Peterson calls this version of a Sabbath a “bastard Sabbath.” Weekends in America are, for many, a secular Sabbath that misses the glory of what God has called us to enjoy. p24
“enjoyment” is an overarching theme allender pushes us to think about. allender also notes how the sabbath takes work. it is work to prepare for it and work to reflect on previous sabbaths in order to better prepare and enjoy the next.
The key word is intentionality. Joy doesn’t just happen, nor is it served up on demand…Sabbath joy is part mysterious surprise preceded by much planning and preparation. The Sabbath calls us to receive and to create with God the delight he gives and invites us to orchestrate for his glory. It requires surrender and imagination. p62
hopefully, as i finish the book the good quotes will start to outnumber the more bewildering passages.
about a couple of weeks ago it hit me that all of our days run together. and setting aside that there are two little boys and a newborn, i noticed omar and i were tired. it was a tiredness that existed regardless of the kids. a little light bulb clicked on and i realized that during most weeks, we have nothing that even resembles a sabbath – a day of actual resting.
but if there is something i’m really good at it’s trying again (this sabbath post from a couple of years ago was round 2 in trying to figure out our family’s sabbath). i’m hoping this next week will be a reorienting one for me and omar. we’ve already started talking about what we want to do and not do on our sabbath. and for us, we have to figure out when our sabbath will be.
i’m rereading lynne baab’s sabbath keeping (highly recommend), and i pulled the sabbath edition of the christian reflection journal off the shelf. the interview with dorothy bass helped orient me to what the sabbath is on a large scale – it’s about much more than my own personal rest:
Let’s remember that six days of work are the counterpart to the sabbath. Work is good, for it allows us to take part in God’s own care of the world. Christians should be concerned about people who don’t have any work at all, as well as about those who are forced to work more than six days each week. Sabbath practice has justice implications, concerning the fact that many people have so little to say about the basic economic shape of their lives. We cannot allow ourselves to be smug if we’re privileged enough to be able to choose which day to take for rest. God calls us to help make the world a place where everyone can have good work and rest. p. 80
and the personal sabbath story (bowling on the sabbath) of a couple with three young kids made me less overwhelmed at the thought of setting aside a day of rest with little people who are a tad on the demanding side right now. at the end of their intro, right before they go on to describe their family sabbath practices, they offer this:
Please see us as real people with real children who have been known to scream throughout everything you’re about to read. p. 67
love it. this couple urges parents to see themselves as “priestly parents” rather than “sabbath cops.”
Priests, as spiritual authority figures and keepers of ritual, make things holy by blessing days and children. As priestly parents, our role is to say “Yes” to honoring the sabbath. If we fail to be priestly parents, we might become sabbath cops who merely patrol the house, saying “No” to things for being against the rules of the sabbath. Sabbath cops can create a quiet, joyless day with “no fun ‘aloud’.” p. 69
i’ll keep you posted…
after the lights are out. giving elisha a final bedtime snuggle.
me: what do you think we should name the baby?
elisha: did jesus give us juice or wine for the lord’s supper?
me: (seriously?) umm…wine.
elisha: why we have juice?
me: good question. (at this point i figured i’d use big terms and hope he’d lose interest) even before official prohibition, america became a bit hung-up on drinking and no one fought the good fight to keep wine as an accepted part of the lord’s supper.
me: i’ll look up the details. nighty night.
20 minutes and a google search later:
from a christianity today article:
Leaders of the 18th-century “evangelical revival” in Britain and America, though concerned about the immoderate use of alcohol, did not see wine, cider, and beer as alcoholic in the same way as distilled spirits (such as gin and brandy). However, in the 19th century, temperance became “teetotalism” or “total abstinence,” moving all alcohol (wine included) into the list of forbidden beverages. Many began to question why a beverage considered dangerous to drink was still used on the Communion table.
Motivated by these arguments, Protestant churchgoers and clergy sought a way to make unfermented grape juice. An American Methodist dentist, Thomas Bramwell Welch, and his son Charles were the first to succeed in this on a large scale. Charles Welch was a skilled marketer, and “Welch’s grape juice” became a popular beverage among total abstainers and the replacement for fermented wine on most American Protestant Communion tables (except in Lutheran and Episcopal churches).
and of course the individual cups that resulted as a fear of germs were made so as not to look like whiskey shot glasses. but my favorite tidbit gleaned from the article?
…some marketers to evangelical churches have developed disposable individual Communion cups which contain both wafer and grape juice in separate hermetically sealed compartments.
to me this brings to mind handi-snacks.
easter morning has come. and it has been a good morning. we are trying to teach elisha to say, “he is risen!” which comes out garbled but quite energetic. flowers have been set out, the food is prepared (almost) and even my cinnamon rolls have risen (wink). we are off to worship and celebrate. a happy easter to you.
mary ran and ran, all the way to the city. she had never run so fast or so far in all her life. she felt she could have run forever. she didn’t even feel like her feet touched the ground. the sun seemed to be dancing and gleaming and bounding across the sky, racing with her and shining brighter than she could ever remember in the clear, fresh air.
and it seemd to her that morning, as she ran, almost as if the whole world had been made anew, almost as if the whole world was singing for joy – the trees, tiny sounds in the grass, the birds…her heart. was god really making everything sad come untrue? was he making even death come untrue? she couldn’t wait to tell jesus’ friends. “they won’t believe it!” she laughed. she was right, of course.
the jesus storybook bible – sally lloyd-jones
our thursday kitchen is always a clean one. i like walking around on the floor barefoot – and preferably not pregnant. and it’s typically a bustling and excited kitchen. because omar is off on friday our thursdays are just that – fridays. i think even elisha gets a bit excited. perhaps he knows the weekend is at hand…or perhaps it’s just the mop, which he adores. thursdays morphed into “cleaning day” a ways back. it makes the weekend a bit more enjoyable. and the beauty of a small-ish apartment is that it gets clean pretty quickly. and today’s weather has been nothing short of glorious. windows have been rolled open and i’m trying to pretend i don’t even mind the miami car honking that’s been a chorus to my day.
my sabbath thinking has led me to think we should do a sundown thursday to sundown friday sabbath. i think i’m getting there. i think. and then kid #1 gets sick and throws me off kilter. so here is to next thursday, perhaps the start of a great ortiz sabbath tradition? as for today, welcome pizza delivery man. welcome.
this le creuset pot is beloved in our home. and oddly enough when we got it, it helped spur on my thoughts on the sabbath. i wanted that pot front and center of our table and filled with some kind of goodness each sabbath.
the littlest one in our home is now four months and i now seem to have a bit more time to think about the sabbath again and what should go in that pot. my mind starts racing when this topic comes up. i have so many questions and thoughts that i have a hard time deciding what we’ll “do” for sabbath as a family. or even the “when” of sabbath, considering omar’s a pastor. when elisha was about 6 months our family began to celebrate a purposeful sabbath fairly faithfully. sun up to sun down, a special meal, and rest from our daily work became almost routine and it was wonderful. then pregnancy struck. and it all fell apart.
i think i’m ready to get back on track. lynne baab’s sabbath keeping has proven to be the greatest help for our family. she’s a good writer who successfully balances the personal stories, history, and scripture. i just finished marva dawn’s keeping the sabbath wholly, but for some reason this book did not resonate with me. perhaps it is that it is a bit too focused on jewish tradition and contemporary jewish thinkers at the expense of addressing what both the new testament and christian thinkers have to say on the subject. several key new testament references are absent from discussion. for example, i find it odd that her book does not even mention the passage in colossians where paul makes a point to tell the people not to let others judge them with regard to the sabbath day. i should note i’ve gone through the book several times making sure the above statement is correct and welcome a correction if anyone finds where she has addressed it. and while i thought her book divisions (ceasing, resting, embracing, feasting) would give me greater understanding, they ended up being repetitive. i sound really down on her. to give her credit, her book is one of the first modern layman’s books on the topic. and i would recommend the feasting section of the book. it is full of good quotes:
sabbath keeping teaches the dialectical truth that christian feasting is both temporal and eternal. our weekly celebrations help us to be more aware that god is eternally present, but the fact that sunday moves on into monday keeps reminding us that our short-lived sabbath celebrations are but a foretaste of the eternal feast that we will someday enjoy in God’s presence. p153
i’m inspired to go back and re-read baab’s book and actually thoughtfully answer the questions at the end of each chapter. so here is to trying to figure out what constitutes faithful sabbath celebration. and let’s just hope pregnancy doesn’t thwart me again…at least not yet. but if it does i’m buying myself another le creuset.