It is Saturday afternoon… my Sabbath, as a Christian, starts this evening. I have been at the office all morning, and I am not sure what state the house will be in when I get home, but I do know that my dad invited my brother and sister-in-law to watch the Ducks cream Nichols in college football… What will my Sabbath look like? Will I be ready?

The game should be over well before Sunset. I have a plan for what to make for dinner, and for tomorrow’s lunch, so that tomorrow really will be a Sabbath of rest and ceasing from normal work… a time devoted to family and worship and prayer and God. As I rush to finish my work that I must do before church starts tomorrow morning, and as I am about to rush home and see what I ought to do before Sabbath begins, while also being social with my family.

As I try to prepare my heart for Sabbath, I am reminded of two things.

First, the challenges of living in a household with others who aren’t totally on board with your idea of Sabbath. Since moving to Eugene, Oregon last January, we have been living with my parents. It has been a total blessing, and of course, a challenge in some ways. We have different priorities. If the Sabbath can’t totally be a complete household commitment, then we must find ways to keep it in our hearts. One professor in seminary, who taught me a lot about Sabbath, said, “Start by keeping it yourself, and once you have the principles settled in your own heart, it will be easier to bring others along.” (Something along those lines anyway!) That is advice I will take to heart today. My husband and I have not really celebrated a dedicated Sabbath in several years, so this is something we will learn together, we will have to teach our kids about, and perhaps, my parents might join in as well. We plan to invite others to join us a couple Sabbaths a month, starting in October. Judgment of others, and frustration at not getting it right does not have a place in my Sabbath. If that creeps into my heart, my heart will not be at rest, and Sabbath will become an area of performance instead of a gift to God from my heart, as I receive the blessing of Sabbath he wants to give me. So, whatever I find when I get home, and to whatever degree we are able to keep Sabbath tonight and tomorrow, I will be content.

The second thing I am reminded of is an article I read by Lauren Winner, who in part of her exploration of Christian Sabbath keeping, quotes a woman named Nan Fink who converted to Judaism later in life, when she met the Jewish man who became her husband.

“On Friday afternoon, at the very last minute, we’d rush home, stopping at the grocery to pick up supplies. Flying into the kitchen we’d cook ahead for the next twenty-four hours. Soup and salad, baked chicken, yams and applesauce for dinner, and vegetable cholent or lasagna for the next days lunch. Sometimes I’d think how strange it was to be in such a frenzy to get ready for a day of rest.

Shabbat preparations had their own rhythm, and once the table was set and the house straightened, the pace began to slow. “It s your turn first in the shower,” I’d call to Michael. “Okay, but its getting late,” he’d answer, concerned about starting Shabbat at sunset.

In the bathroom I’d linger at the mirror [examining myself] stroking the little lines on my face, taking as much time as I could to settle into a mood of quietness. When I joined Michael and his son for the lighting of the candles, the whole house seemed transformed. Papers and books were neatly piled, flowers stood in a vase on the table, and the golden light of the setting sun filled the room….

Shabbat is like nothing else. Time as we know it does not exist for these twenty-four hours, and the worries of the week soon fall away. A feeling of joy appears. The smallest object, a leaf or a spoon, shimmers in a soft light, and the heart opens. Shabbat is a meditation of unbelievable beauty.”

Ahh, that is my lovely dream I pursue in Sabbath – a place transformed, that I might have a heart transformed. A peace in which to better appreciate my blessings and love on those I share my life with. As much as I can, I will settle my spirit into quietness tonight, and meditate on the beauty and gifts all around me.

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