sabbath days


I really liked what Contemplative Scholar had to say about her rules for the sabbath:

… I will leave weekends completely open, letting myself spend some time on Saturdays catching up on whatever needs catching up on, or working further on writing. Sundays I will try to keep as “sabbath” days again — this worked for a while last fall, but fell apart towards the end and was hopeless in my ultra-busy spring (but I have good reason to think that this year won’t be that ridiculously busy again).

My rule for sabbath is really pretty simple: I ignore anything anxiety-producing but otherwise do whatever I want. Ignoring all “work” altogether is the ideal, but I do not make this a hard and fast rule. It can be hard to precisely define what counts and what does not count as “work.” And sometimes what technically counts as “work” can be fun and soul-restoring for me. But more to the point, what the sabbath is for me is especially a time for reorienting myself to being guided by the Spirit. I try to live like this all the time, of course, but my busy and highly-scheduled life can erode that sense over time, especially when things get really frantic. And so I find it helpful to have sabbath days as weekly times to “reset” how I orient my life, in case that is necessary.

My Congregational minister grandfather, in trying to preserve his family’s day of rest, is said to have outlawed all “work” on Sundays when my mom and her siblings were growing up. This was a drag for the girls who most wanted to sew dolls, then dresses and quilts. Eventually my mom and her sister were old enough to make an argument for sewing being “fun.” And then they got to do it on Sundays.

I relate this story, because it speaks to the same issues Contemplative Scholar brings up. Rest must be a release from anxiety, from everyday stress, as well as labor. But one woman’s labor is another woman’s fun. (And yes, for me, sewing definitely would be classed as work!)


2 Responses to “sabbath days”

  1. QuaCarol Says:

    A day of Sabbath is hard for me as a self-employed person. You’d think that since I make my own hours–can work when and where I please, so long as I meet the publisher’s deadline–that I’d be having days off all the time. In truth, I regularly spend some time at my desk every day of the week.

    But the other side of what might be seen as workaholism is that I also get to spend some Sabbath time every day–usually in the afternoons and into the evenings. Does Sabbath have to be 24 hours? Today, for example, I shut off the desk lamp at 2:30 and headed out to Central Park.

    I recently found an article by Wayne Muller on the importance of Sabbath and on small ways to keep a Sabbath space and time in your life. Have a look. It’s on

  2. kate Says:

    Hi Carol,
    My situation is not too different from yours, though with fewer hard and fast deadlines. LIke you, I am at my desk every day, at least for a few hours.
    I am not sure if I will carve out a day free from work (or stress!) or if I will take more conscious periods of rest in partial-day timeslots, as you do.

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