[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?