(Sort of ) Shomer Shabbos

by Christie on May 1, 2013

“Saturday, Donny, is Shabbos, the Jewish day of rest. That means that I don’t work, I don’t drive a car, I don’t f***ing ride in a car, I don’t handle money, I don’t turn on the oven, and I sure as shit don’t f***ing roll!”

– Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) in “The Big Lebowski”

As a kid, there was no mistaking when Sunday rolled around. Sunday was so clearly different than any other day. The morning began early, but was quiet and subdued. After returning from church, the house would quickly fill with the rich smells of a decadent breakfast, which might even include store-bought danish if we were lucky. The entire family gathered around the table for a long, lazy breakfast before retreating to our respective corners for a few hours.

If my grandparents were in town (which, looking back, seemed to be most weekends), dinner was a heavy mid-afternoon meal that was carefully timed to coincide with halftime of the Packers game – one of the only times the television was on during the day.

The day moved on a special schedule, with a cadence and rhythm all its own. The day was slower, quieter, calmer. The day was sacred.

Somewhere, somehow, between then and now, things changed. Weekends became about chores and errands, laundry and grocery shopping, emails and work projects. Since I do most of my freelance work while the kids are sleeping or otherwise occupied, Sunday is just another workday for me, which is exacerbated by my addiction to technology and social media. My iPhone is rarely out of arm’s reach so that I can read and respond to emails quickly, monitor any earth-shattering Facebook news, and generally be ready just in case something comes up.

Sundays have lost their serenity, their healing quality. The mornings are just as rushed as any other morning, the afternoons are just as busy as any other afternoon, and by the evening, I am just as exhausted as I am on any other evening.

Part of this is due to the fact that my husband and I are raising two young children. Gone are the days of sleeping in and lazy brunches and long, quiet walks, that’s for sure. But even aside from the “Groundhog Day” repeating quality of life that comes with young children, I can’t help but notice that, as my Sundays became busier, as they became filled with activities and outings and chores, my entire week lost a certain purity. And I lost a sense of sacred connection – to family, to self, to the divine – as a result.

I have been toying with the idea of incorporating a flexible and evolving Sabbath day into my life for some time now and when my spirituality group recently discussed “The Sabbath World” by Judith Shulevitz, I was further inspired to create my own personal shabbos (the Yiddish word for Shabbat). As part of my Stepping Out challenge, I have committed myself to doing something that forces me out of my comfort zone each month and since I recently finished a month-long physical undertaking that included regular yoga, now seems like the right time to try this spiritual lifestyle change.

While I don’t plan to follow orthodox rules of Shabbat (i.e. Walter Sobchak’s prohibition on bowling), nor do I have a particular day set in stone, I do plan incorporate the core principles of a spiritual day of rest. Whether a Jewish Shabbat from sundown on Friday through Saturday evening, a Christian Sabbath on Sunday, or a Buddhist rest day every 7-8 days, the principles of sacred time are the same: rest, reflection, and reconnection.

Shabbos, for me, will be about delegating time to look inward, rather than reaching outward. A time to focus on what I have, instead of searching for something new. A time to disconnect from work and technology in order to reconnect with family and friends, both near and far. A time to quiet the external noise so that I can hear my own powerful voice.

Whether or not my shabbos includes bowling or not remains to be seen.

Do you celebrate the Sabbath, Shabbat, or other sacred or secular day of rest? If so, how?

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