In A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles,” Marianne Williamson writes that “as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” I asked prominent authors, theologians, bloggers, and ministers to “let their own light shine,” by writing on the joys and challenges of sabbath practices. During this summer guest blog series, these writers will help us learn from one another, and, in turn, give us permission to explore our own sabbath journeys.
I want to hear from you, too!
Take a photo of yourself—or a selfie—while engaging in a sabbath practice (rest, worship, or a community gathering). Share the photo on social media and include #forsabbathssake in your post. Give yourself and others permission to enjoy the gift of sabbath!
Guest Post by Whitney R. Simpson
Sabbath: the seventh day of the week observed from Friday evening to Saturday evening as a day of rest and worship by Jews and some Christians; often observed on Sunday among Christians as a day of rest and worship; a time of rest; abstaining from work
There is simply something about summer that leaves me yearning for quiet, slow, sunny mornings and extra time under the stars late at night. Somehow, exploring sabbath rest comes more easily in the summer. The days get longer and time seems to slow down, even though my task list, chores, and never ending ideas continue no matter the season. Yet, summer days help me embrace the concept of sabbath a bit more freely than other times of the year.
I don’t know about you, but my sabbath time is not often scheduled on one set day of the week as the definition suggests. Since my retreat and workshop work often continues throughout the weekend, it’s challenging to always find sabbath on Sundays. Many of us work varied hours, and those of us who are caregivers or parents know this type of work cannot be unscheduled on certain days. Those who work in the church or other ministry settings often share with me that Sunday is far from a day in which they abstain from work. Can we, too, discover sabbath rest and might it be easier than expected in the summer?
Amidst the ongoing duties of life, new rules seem to take effect in the summer for our family. Or, maybe it’s less rules? A teen who calls to stay over and spend the night at his grandmother’s house rather than come home (he knows his room looks like a tornado hit and avoids this duty at all costs), yet I agree. A newsletter that has a deadline, but instead, a yoga mat, some homemade kombucha, and a lovely back porch (from where I cannot escape the loud construction of a new home next door) call more loudly and I easily unplug. And a day that should have involved household cleaning – instead I find myself loading my Kindle with tons of library books. Free fiction and summer – that’s my sabbath.
Today I sat in silence and wondered – rest and worship come easy for me. Yet why is it sometimes hard to abstain from work? Is it because there are so many great ideas brewing in my creative heart? There are not enough hours, even on a long summer day to tackle everything God has planted inside me (and the stuff I avoid too, like laundry). How do I step away from “work” and lean in to my own soul care? Here are five soul care tips for exploring summer sabbath:
- Sun Soaking: Get outside and soak up the sun (as a melanoma survivor, I do also urge you to please wear sun protection and sun safely). Yes, the sun is so good for you! There is a physical longing our bodies have for sunshine and the Vitamin D it offers. Also consider the fact that our Creator offers this miracle of the sun each day. Don’t let this pass. Get outside and soak up God’s gift of the sun.
- Sleep Patterns: As tempting as it is in the long days of summer, keep your bedtime and morning routines. Our bodies need sleep. God designed us for rest. And just as sabbath rest is important to our spiritual life, daily physical rest through sleep is vital. Your body was not designed to continue on without sleep. Embrace sleep in healthy patterns and offer your body a regular rhythm of bedtime and rising, offering space for your body and your spirit.
- Social Boundaries: Connect with others and know when to disconnect too. I love social media. It allows me to connect with those near and far. I can stay connected and in touch with those who I would never otherwise have the opportunity to connect. Choose when you interact online, and also find times to purposely log off from your social media interactions. This boundary on your time allows you to be present with those around you and with your Creator.
- Senses and Sounds: Our bodies are miraculous, right? We often sense far more than we process. Slow down to really sense how that fresh berry tastes in your mouth. Discover how the grass feels between your toes. Notice the sounds of nature or your favorite musician. Our senses allow us to turn many ordinary moments into sacred opportunities. What do you notice around you today and how could you capture this?
- Silly Fun: Have some silly fun! Seriously, I know what it feels like to have to work at having fun. This step does not come naturally to me, yet it’s getting easier! The more you practice this, the easier it will become. When was the last time you laughed – really laughed? What brings you joy? Find some silly fun this summer. God created you for delight!
This summer I am definitely not tossing my ideas or creative spirit – these are not work. I am exploring sabbath rest and discovering time apart from work (like my computer screen) more freely. I desire to embrace soaking up the sun, sleeping plenty, keeping safe boundaries for my social media time, savoring my senses, and discovering plenty of silly fun! Will you join me in this and keep me accountable as well?
What does your summer sabbath look like? How do you make space away from your work? Is that easy or difficult in this season of summer?