Just as a fisherman makes new bait and packs up his tackle box so that he has what he needs to peacefully sit in his boat and do nothing while he’s “gone fishing,” I’ve noticed that preparing for Sabbath makes the time so much sweeter.
Over the years of observing the gift of Sabbath there have been days when everything was ready and days when everything was in disarray.
And even a day or two when I skipped Sabbath because I wasn’t “done” with the week yet.
The following week was even harder to get through, not easier.
Happy (& Unhappy) Sabbath
When my cottage has piles of good intentions and undone to-dos scattered around when the weekend arises, I’ve ended up in a vegetative state of “rest” on Sabbath.
I’d watch movies or read for hours on end.
Technically, I’m not doing anything, so still “sabbathing,” right?
Yet, the following day I’ll feel empty and drained instead of full and invigorated.
Other times, I’ve escaped the mess, spending the day out exploring in the world. I return feeling full, but still a bit spent.
I understand the intention behind many traditions having specific guidelines (or often very specific rules) about how to enter Sabbath.
It’s true, the day is more accessible and sweeter when my life is ready to take a break.
And, interestingly, my mindset matters more than the mess.
When my body is ready to take a break as well, when I’ve emptied my mind and heart of grievances and concerns, then it doesn’t bother me as much.
Acts of Service, Acts of Love
She says that preparation is an act of love and rest is an act of faith.
I usually think of errands, cleaning, cooking etc. as acts of obligation.
But, when they are in preparation for something special, like a holiday or a holy day, they do take on a different motivation.
I sense the devotion to myself and my loved ones as I double down on the housework or email.
In other words, Chapman says, you seek to please them by serving them, to express your love by doing things for them.
And, I think this starts with ourselves.
But, I think the idea of self love is misleading. Self love doesn’t exist.
There is always love there.
A love that is whole and keeps me whole. Because, the whole cannot be whole without all of me.
But, when my devotion is lacking, when there are holes of fatigue or hurt or disappointment or fear, it is harder to do these acts of service, acts of love.
This is where the faith comes in.
Knowing, from wisdom and intuition, what will make things better for later.
Knowing that the satisfaction, joy, elation later will be far greater than the effort now.
And, it can be even more effortless when done already feeling joyful anticipation.
What will make Sabbath easier?
This list can get very long, but I’ve noticed that there are usually a few key things that really matter.
If undone, they’ll hang over me or get in my way. Or create a gap that jerks me out of my flow.
Like not having anything in the house to eat.
Everybody’s checklist of priorities is different.
For me, it is:
- An empty sink,
- A tidy home,
- Groceries and optimally pre-made meals,
- Critical emails sent
And, if I’m really in a groove, what will make the day after easier?
- Errands run
- Quick look ahead to following week
- And in my current routine, my next blog post done and newsletter prepped
Acts of service go beyond showing devotion to ourselves and to others, and include receiving service.
Which begs the question: Who can help with these preparation priorities?
Asking for and receiving help may actually be the greatest form of satisfaction, joy, elation.
And this is all before Sabbath!
Weekly Wind Down
“As I prepare on Saturday by cooking meals and completing chores, the process becomes a door slowly closing on distractions in order to be fully present with my people. The day is aromatic with anticipation as the kids hover around me in the kitchen, salivating over the smells simmering on the stove top and bread baking in the oven. Joy is an undercurrent of Sabbath when we make the day celebratory. And rested people make for a peaceful home,” writes Shelly Miller.
Whether Sabbath falls on Saturday or Sunday or some other time of the week, whether it’s seen as the end of the week or the beginning of the week, it is a transition.
A way to digest what was and pause before entering what will be.
In order to more fully pause, it is an opportunity to digest, process and release.
Worries, misbeliefs, concerns, joys, questions, discoveries.
And that opportunity starts in the preparation.
In Jewish traditions, varying greatly per movement and especially between Orthodox and Reform from what I’ve learned, there are specific rituals or steps to Sabbath preparation.
For example: shopping for ingredients then cooking, baking or picking up the challah, bathing, cleaning and beautifying the home with flowers, for example.
There is a bit of hustle to it, but these steps go beyond effort, they slowly get one out of the mind, into the body and back into the soul.