Come to the Quiet: Reclaiming Sabbath

The average American spends about 52 minutes a day without noise.  Fifty two minutes where there is no whir of the printer, kids calling, orders being taken, the background din of a workplace, bosses ordering you around, the radio or the blast of the TV. No noise at all. It is a rare commodity in our culture.

Chances are good that even if there is no noise, your head is filled with things that have to be done, stuff you can’t forget, stuff you wish you could forget, and what’s next on the calendar.  Absence of noise doesn’t necessarily mean quiet.

On top of it all there is just too much to do: working two or three jobs to make ends meet, trying to exercise, not eat McDonald’s or KFC every night for dinner, getting the kids where they need to go, cleaning the house and trying to get to bed before one in the morning.  And then there is the “To Do” list. 

Here’s a news flash; that “To Do” list is never going to be finished so you might as well take a few of those 52 minutes without sound and make them minutes of true quiet. A time to take care of your soul; it’s called Sabbath Time.

Sabbath Time is a break from it all.  Don’t worry, I’m not suggesting you go out and join a church (though that certainly is an option).  Rather I am suggesting that you create at least a few minutes of Sabbath Time every day.  Even ten minutes can change your outlook on life. 

During Sabbath time you can recognize that even though it feels like you carry the weight of the world on your shoulders, not everything in the world is your responsibility. It is a time to ponder something larger than yourself and the enormous burdens you carry every day.

It doesn’t matter how long it’s been since you’ve thought about God, prayed or tried to figure what you believe and what you don’t believe.  God isn’t petty like that, despite some of the crap we learned in Sunday School or Catechism.

A good place to start Sabbath Time is to try just ten minutes. Engage your head and your heart with the words “God is.”

Wherever your pondering takes you is okay.  Any relationship needs to start with what is and not what you think it should be.  For some of us God is an SOB who didn’t answer our prayers when we prayed for someone to get well.  For others, God is a pissed off old white guy just waiting to zap you if you step out of line.  Most of us don’t start with an image of a wholly loving God.  Much of that is thanks to life experience and really bad theology when growing up.  If you never went to any kind of religious instruction after you were confirmed or baptized, your spiritual development may have stopped at about the seventh grade.    

Good news; you can start by claiming a few minutes of Sabbath Time every day to ponder who God is for you and who God might become for you at this moment in your life. 

Sabbath Time is the doorway through which most people pass on their way to a deeper more authentic faith.  It won’t change what is true about your life but it may help you notice things you’ve not noticed in a long time–things that bring a smile to your face.  A sunset, a flower, the pure laughter of a child, the list is endless. 

A spiritual director of mine from years ago gave me homework to “notice what I noticed” and write it down.  It was an exercise in paying attention to the beauty that existed in the world in the midst of the craziness.  

Most of us are hungry for something that makes sense in this troubled and troubling world.  These are scary times and life is complicated.  Sabbath Time won’t fix this, but it will make it bearable.    

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