I have been thinking a lot about rest this week. Or rather (in the face of a lost Sunday off) lack of rest, and how far we have come from the command ‘keep the sabbath day holy’.
Now, don’t misunderstand. I think many people in our (British) culture had good reason for rebelling against the Sabbath — against the memories of oppressive Sundays that were marked by the command ‘thou shalt not have fun’. But somehow, as we let go of the restrictions, we also let go of the freedom to do nothing. To make space for conversation and long walks. To cease work without guilt or censure.
But of course, true sabbath takes planning. I blogged last week about Naomi Alderman’s Disobedience. There is a wonderful chapter in which she describes the race against the sabbath clock — trying to get the meal ready and the house prepared, all soon enough to sneak off to Camden to do something secret before sun sets and orthodoxy descends.
On the face of it, the sabbath clock is oppressive. There is a certain madness in counting down the minutes — chicken ready, candles lit, urn switched on… REST. But there is also grace in learning to be disciplined with time, to master it before it masters us.
One of the congregational challenges for The Growing Season has been to spend ten minutes a day in silence. I know many people find it hard to know what to do with silence and ten minutes can feel like forever, but I thought that in these congregations of mostly retired people, it should be possible. But a number of people have told me they just couldn’t manage. Too hard. Not enough time.
Ten minutes a day just wasn’t possible.
So I am thinking about sabbath. How do we teach it? How do we plan for it? How do we do it?
If you’re willing to share ideas, I’d love to know what works for you and how you make it happen.