Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sabbath Part 2

[from An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor]
"I know people who can do five things at once who are incapable of doing nothing.... Since I have been one of those people, I know that saying no is a more difficult spiritual practice than tithing, praying on a cold stone floor, or visiting a prisoner on death row - because while all of those worthy activities may involve saying no to something else so that I can do them instead, they still amount to doing more instead of less. Limiting my activities does not help me feel holy. Doing more feels holy, which is why I stay so intrigued by the fourth commandment."

I have been pretty clear on this blog, and anyone who has spent any significant time with me also knows, that I am one of those five-things-at-a-time sort of people. Recently I was talking to my dad and he mentioned that a friend had asked him what I was doing with all my free time now that school has started and I am not teaching part time this year. I felt like I had to list every little thing I was doing each day to validate myself. I worry that mothers who work will think I am a slacker when I stay home when I have a school-aged child. When friends in other communities sent their kids off to school for the first time last week and posted on Facebook about their time at a coffee shop or other leisure activities for that first day, I realized that I haven't done that much since school started because I feel guilty. I feel compelled to be busy to justify my time at home.

This is so ingrained in me that it makes it difficult to switch gears once a week and experience a true Sabbath. I have no idea what that looks like. What is allowed and what isn't? Can I watch TV? Read a book? Do something crafty? If it goes on a to-do list is it off limits? If I am enjoying time with the Lord most days during the week, how does that time look different on the Sabbath?

Taylor refers to the Sabbath, calling it "the consummate act of divine freedom by doing nothing at all." What do you think of that description?

1 comment:

  1. First off, as unrealistic as it may be, I don't think you should have to answer to anyone outside your household as to why you currently are not in the work force full-time. If your household has decided that the intangible benefits of being home most of the time make your household work, then so be it. I say it may be unrealistic because, as much as I'd like to think peer pressure disappeared when we became adults, I know it's not true.

    Before the days of television and other distractions, Sundays after church were often spent in the country with families spending time together. In the 21st Century with all its distractions, I think that God knows that we have our work cut out for us in this respect. It would seem, however, that with most jobs having the weekends off & kids' schools having the weekends off, one of the two weekend days should at MINIMUM be a day for family to spend time with and bond with each other. I have learned over the years that I see God in many people, not necessarily the same people all the time mind you, but most often with family and close friends. Wouldn't it make sense, then, that spending time with family hiking, biking, visiting a museum, etc. is in effect, spending time with God? In this respect, I do not agree with Taylor's comment that the Sabbath is an act of doing nothing at all.

    My final point has to do with multi-tasking. A recent scientific study concluded that multi-tasking actually leads to LESS productive work accomplished all around. Here is a link to the USA Today story, which contains a link to the actual study:
    I am just as guilty of poor multi-tasking, and I am relieved to see that there is scientific evidence that it just shouldn't be attempted. Again, this is spoken from the perspective of a husband in a household with no children, so it may be ENTIRELY unrealistic! :)

    These are some great questions that you are posing and I hope I have been able to provide some adequate input. The struggle with Christianity seems to be, many times, with the literal interpretation of Scripture vs. subjecting it to the various critical methods available. I will try to respond often to your religious-themed blogging because I have noticed that it dovetails nicely (so far) with a course that I am taking through our church's synod(district).