Monday, July 9, 2012

Keeping the Sabbath in Modern Times

I was listening to Heather Ordover's wonderful commentary on Gulliver's Travels (which comes with audio of the book specially recorded for us, y'all). In this particular episode of Just the Books, she mentioned a New York Times article about a good way to be able to fully enjoy vacation. It is to "practice" turning off electronic devices and taking a day to rest every week (as far as I gathered). Essentially, let's keep the Sabbath (secular style) everyone!

Heather and her husband have been working gradually in that direction and resolved to turn off electronic devices and do activities with their children that they wouldn't normally do during the week ... on Saturday for them because they are Jewish.

Love it!

You know that I have struggled to try to keep the Sabbath holy. It can be tough, especially at first, but as time has gone by I have found it becoming an easier habit and an almost unconscious practice. I fully realized this on the 4th of July when I was deliberately not turning on my computer or iPod. And then I said, "Self, this isn't Sunday, it's ok."

But you know what?

That made it less of a "special day" so I went ahead with my Sabbath-style "no electronics rule." I did have to work preparing holiday food, but it was special food work and so also contributed to the holiday mood. That is how I tend to treat Saturday, as a matter of fact ... fewer electronics, more time for weekend cleaning and cooking and books and things.

Here's the email I sent to Heather, who is used to getting my emails when I'm all excited. It's my on-the-fly version of our journey to keeping the Sabbath holy.
Anyway, I think I've already mentioned that we try to "keep the Sabbath" also? For about a year or so, I'd say. It began because of a book [The Power of Pause by Terry Hershey - my review here] that was loosely tied to spiritual practices and the point that keeping the third commandment (not a request, but a commandment) comes above honoring your father and mother as well as above "thou shalt not murder."

Darn it.

Partway into it, I then read Rabbi Heschel's amazing book, The Sabbath, which was partly above my head but most of it was amazing and brought me to that understanding that the "lounging around, wasting time, turning off devices, just hanging with our loved ones" is what life IS SUPPOSED TO BE LIKE ALL THE TIME.

Of course, I say this as a Catholic ... the younger brothers of our elder brothers, the Hebrew people ... but seriously. If we are to love God and then to just have a blast hanging out, essentially loving each other too? C'mon. That's a bit of Heaven on earth.

Though I have to make my Saturdays super-full to get it to work, that's ok (and that's also why I have to quit typing soon) ... it is so worth it.

Now I feel as if I'm cheating to turn on the computer, iPod, etc. So I don't. And it is lovely. We visit Tom's mom, we talk to Rose on video Skype, Hannah comes over and we have cocktails, a meal, and a movie ...of course, we go to Mass ... and you know, when you have a whole day with "nothing to do" then you can focus on Mass because you're not
busy making that mental list of what else to do the second you get out the door.

Of course, it is not always like that. But our rule of not doing something that can be checked off a list is one that works. And it makes it like a little vacation every week.
I'll add that I was already being influenced as well by a bulletin insert I wrote about the third commandment (yes God uses everything to get my attention).

1 comment:

  1. I had the same experience this week. I kept being so relieved when I remembered July 4th wasn't an HDO,and so I could keep going on my to-do list, guilt-free.

    (It was still spectacular -- going to an Army base for the 4th will capture the festive spirit regardless of how many errands you ran earlier in the day.)