This is the fourth in a special series on Sabbath by guest blogger Rev. Dianne Lawhorn. Please read the first installment here, the second installment here, and the third here. We offer these reflections in the hope that you will feel invited to deepen your own Sabbath practice. Thank you to Dianne for sharing these thoughtful reflections with us in this space!
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I believe that there are two important things to consider when you are planning for Sabbath time. These two things are what to include in your Sabbath time and what to leave out of it. So, let’s start with what you might want to leave out of your Sabbath time. We should think about doing more of what gives us life and doing less of what drains us. This calls for some reflection on our part. We might ask ourselves: what do we find to be life- giving and what do we find to be life-draining? What helps us to give and receive God’s love and what hinders us from doing that? These questions may sound familiar to you as they are the Ignatian Questions of Examen. They provide a wonderful spiritual check-in for how our rhythm is working for us.
When I think about what is life-draining for me, it’s rushing, deadlines, multi-tasking, being always available, unrealistic expectations, and not feeling the freedom to do the things at my own pace. Wayne Muller speaks in his book, Sabbath, about having a Sabbath box- where you place the things that are not invited into your Sabbath time. So, I might put my watch, cellphone, or my calendar in the box. The idea is that you don’t allow the things that drain you to enter into your Sabbath space, you protect yourself from them for a set- aside time. This is about freeing yourself up to take a vacation from those things.
Once the life-draining things of life are set aside, then, you are free to open yourself to experiencing the life-giving things that replenish you. For me those life-giving things are easing into the day, not always being available through technology, and allowing myself to do things at a more leisurely pace, as I actually lose track of time. As you create your Sabbath space; you should be encouraged to feel free to do whatever you need to do for yourself.
I have been observing Sabbath for quite some time now. I can say that it has been the most helpful spiritual practice I have found. It has really opened up space for me to nurture my spiritual longings, without feeling guilty about the time that I am spending doing so. This practice has brought refreshment to my soul and helped me to embrace a new rhythm.
As you enter into your Sabbath time, you might consider using these questions of Examen as well. For most of us, it has been a long time since we took the time to consider what drains us or what brings us life. Considering these questions will help you design a Sabbath day that truly ministers to your soul. I pray God’s blessings on you as you embrace the kind of Sabbath Rest that will bring you life. I celebrate the gifts that await you within it!
Dianne is currently the Minister of Spiritual Formation for the Lydia Group which is a resource for spiritual wholeness offering formational teaching, retreat leadership, and spiritual direction.