"It could be as simple as playing a game of Go Fish or staring at the stars from a blanket on the driveway. Could we practice the Sabbath that way? I think it’s worth a try."
Searching for Sabbath
Do you feel as if the summer months are swallowing your family whole? Does the loss of a predictable schedule send you into an emotional tailspin? Are you counting down the days until school starts again - not for their sake, but for yours? Do you long for Sabbath rest, but know that going off the grid for 24 hours will never fly with your family? Fear not. You are not alone. There is hope. There is the Summer Sabbath Reboot.
As pastor Ken Shigemastu writes in God in My Everything: How an Ancient Rhythm Helps Busy People Enjoy God, "The golden rule for the Sabbath is cease from what is necessary and to embrace what gives life."
This made me wonder: this summer, would it be possible to capture moments, minutes, and occasionally hours to embrace what brings life to our households? Are there ways that we can intentionally choose to pause and rest, to savor beauty, appreciate goodness, and celebrate and enjoy what God has created? Is there a way to synthesize children's joy in summer's freedom with needed time for quiet reflection and routine? Blessings. Rest. Pause. Restoration. Savoring. Beauty. Appreciation. Goodness.
"Then God surveyed everything He had made, savoring its beauty and appreciating its goodness. Evening gave way to morning. That was day six. So now you see how the Creator swept into being the spangled heavens, the earth, and all their hosts in six days. On the seventh day—with the canvas of the cosmos completed—God paused from His labor and rested. Thus God blessed day seven and made it special—an open time for pause and restoration, a sacred zone of Sabbath-keeping, because God rested from all the work He had done in creation that day." -Genesis 1:31-2:3, The Voice
The 30 Minute Sabbath
Particularly in the summer, when routines loosen and expectations for fun are greater than those for rest, the idea of a 24-hour sabbatical is overwhelming. So what if we practice the Sabbath, in our homes, 20 or 30 minutes at a time, by finding ways to unplug from the world and connect with one another? These moments of Sabbath connection could be as simple as playing a game of Go Fish or staring at the stars from a blanket on the driveway. Could we practice the Sabbath that way? I think it’s worth a try.
30 Minute Summer Sabbath Practices
To get your family started with your own Sabbath practice, here is a little cheat sheet of ideas:
Rule 1: Don’t Stress out.
Rule 2: There is no rule about how often you should practice Sabbath. Do it when you can. No beating yourself up about not doing it more often!
Rule 3: Sabbath practices really do work best when all devices are put away and turned off (adults too.)
Rule 4: Everyone in the household should find a way to participate if possible – even grown-ups!
Rule 5: No murmurings of discontent.
Rule 6: End your Sabbath practice with a prayer of thanksgiving.
Sabbath practices bring about restoration when you are intentional about taking time to pause and rest – when you choose to savor beauty, appreciate goodness, and celebrate your blessings. As a household, make your own list of Sabbath Practices. Begin by asking each other “what brings us life and joy?”
10 Indoor Sabbath Ideas
1. Read aloud for 30 minutes each evening from a classic book.
2. Build a fort using blankets and chairs. Everyone get in the fort. No one can get out until everyone has told a funny story or joke.
3. Make homemade ice cream. Savor each bite.
4. Play card games or teach card tricks. Build a card tower. Who can blow it over?
5. Put on a shadow puppet show or make sock puppets out of old socks.
6. Have a living room floor picnic.
7. Make paper hats. Everyone has to wear theirs at dinner or breakfast.
8. Have a "Who Can Be The Most Still?" Contest.
9. Declare a 30 minute “quiet quarantine” once a day. Not talking, no devices. Give everyone earplugs if necessary to help them disconnect from distractions.
10. Visit a museum. Take coloring pencils and paper. Sit in front of a favorite work of art and draw the beauty that you see.
10 Outdoor Sabbath Ideas
1. Have a water gun fight.
2. Play Flashlight Tag after dark.
3. Go star gazing on a blanket in the driveway. Notice how big the heavens are.
4. Make a late night run for ice cream.
5. Pause from your work and run through the sprinkler fully dressed!
6. Have a picnic in the backyard. Savor how good food taste eaten outdoors.
7. Sit on the porch/stoop/driveway and take a sensory inventory. How many sounds do you hear in 30 minutes? How many things do you see? What do you smell?
8. Ride bikes, take a walk, play croquet, shoot hoops, jump on the trampoline, go swimming. Try and appreciate your ability to do these things.
9. Make a grateful list outside using sidewalk chalk.
10. Pick flowers or berries or visit a farmers market. What goodness do you see, hear, smell or taste?
Summer Sabbath Supplies Kit
To make things easier, fill a basket with some of the following items so that when you are ready to declare it “Sabbath Time!” you don’t have to go hunting for your supplies.
- Deck of Cards
- Bug Spray
- Flash Lights
- Water Guns
- Old Socks
- Ear Plugs
- Printed Sabbath Prayer
Blessed are You, Lord our God, Thank you for the gift of Sabbath and the restoration it brings. Thank for an open time to pause and savor the beauty of our lives. Help us to appreciate the goodness of this moment. Amen.
Jerusalem Jackson Greer is a writer, speaker, nest-fluffer, novice farm-gal, and author of A Homemade Year: The Blessings of Cooking, Crafting and Coming Together. She is also the Minister to Children, Youth, and Families at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Conway, Arkansas. Jerusalem lives with her husband and two sons on a little farm in Shady Grove, Arkansas. As a family, they are attempting to live a slower version of modern life. She blogs about all of this and more at http://jerusalemgreer.com