Sabbath Tips: Rest, Community, and Nature

Make time to be alone, to be with others, and to be in nature on the Sabbath.

[Ed. note: This article is part of our weekly series of resources for churches and families called Cultivating Community published on Thursdays.]

Our modern lives can often be anything but restful. There are cell phones ringing and computer alerts constantly ready to interrupt. There is the visual din of the 5,000 ads we see each day. Rather than technology freeing us up for leisure it has allowed us to cram more and more into our schedules. On top of everything we still need to get the kids to school, the house cleaned, and work finished before deadline. In the midst of modern life, rest is often the first thing to go and the still, small voice that says “Remember the Sabbath” can be drowned out entirely.

In contrast, consider these words from poet, author, and farmer Wendell Berry: [From his collection of Sabbath poems called A Timbered Choir.]

“The mind that comes to rest is tended
In ways it cannot intend
Is borne, preserved, and comprehended,
By what it cannot comprehend.

Your Sabbath, Lord, thus keeps us by
Your will, not ours. And it is fit
Our only choice should be to die
Into that rest, or out of it.”

The things which are the life of a community, a church, and a family are not things which can be had at a “drive-thru” pace. Deep knowledge of a place or a person, the life of the home, substantive reflection on the Lord and his word don’t always come in a rush. Sabbath reminds us that we are finite creatures dependent on the Lord for our daily bread and everything else. It reminds us that there are more important things than the to-do list and that rest is a good part of being human.

The next question: How do I do it?

Below are some ideas to help you remember the Sabbath and put some unhurried time for rest and reflection in your week. First, however, it might be helpful for you to create a list of “Sabbath Boundaries,” things you will not do or will do in moderation on the Sabbath. A few of those boundaries might include:

  1. Turn off your cell phone.
  2. Don’t watch TV.
  3. Keep the computer off.
  4. Don’t multitask.
  5. Don’t use a microwave—prepare your food fresh with others.

Those are just a few ideas to get you started. Tailor your list to suit your situation. Get creative. Guess and check and see what helps and what doesn’t.

Sabbath Tips

Our Sabbath ideas break into three categories—try to have a bit of each one as you go about your day.

  1. Spend time alone.
  2. Spend time with others.
  3. Spend time in nature.

Time Alone

  • It doesn't have to be a "church activity" to "count" for the Sabbath. Take a nap!

    Be sure to set aside time to read the Bible, pray, and meditate on the Lord. You don’t have to do this alone, but if you are usually in a group setting such as church or a Bible study when you do these things during the rest of the week, maybe you should.

  • Read a book. Just because it is happening on the Sabbath doesn’t mean it has to be something that takes place in church to “count.” Take a nap. Listen to music. Take a walk. Exercise. Do what makes you feel happy and rested.

Time With Others

  • Have people over for dinner. Hosting people can be a great way to connect and everybody loves to eat a meal with friends.
  • Get coffee with someone. The coffee house is the new third place of our culture. Coffee shops can be great, centralized places to get together with someone and have a conversation. (And you don’t have to clean the house.)
  • Invite someone to join you on an activity you would usually do alone. Ask someone to go grocery shopping or to the farmer’s market with you. Ask your kids to help cook dinner. Work around the yard as a family.

Time In Nature

  • Take a slow hike. Nature moves at a different pace than our busy lives—often you have to slow down to really take in all its sounds, sights, and smells.
  • Work in the garden. Plants are a picture of patience and dependence. They cannot grow until they receive rain, soil, and sunshine and if they don’t get those things they wither and die. Cultivating them can communicate those subtle lessons as you work to give them what they need.
  • Does your church have a prayer garden? Bring a Bible and go spend some time there.
  • Go on a picnic in the park with your family.
  • Or just sit on the front porch and enjoy the neighborhood.

 

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