Saturday, April 17, 2010

I Was Wrong

(Also known as: Sabbath, revisited)

Shabbat isn't about beginning my week well-rested. Shabbat isn't about slowing down my life. Shabbat isn't about having "me" time.

Simply put, Shabbat isn't about me.

Shabbat is about Him.

"...there is something, in the Jewish Sabbath that is absent from most Christian Sundays: a true cessation from the rhythms of work and world, a time wholly set apart, and, perhaps above all, a sense that the point of Shabbat, the orientation of Shabbat, is toward God.

Pick up any glossy women's magazine from the last few years and you'll see what I mean. The Sabbath has come back into fashion, even among the most secular Americans, but the Sabbath we now embrace is a curious one. Articles abound extolling the virtues of treating yourself to a day of rest, a relaxing and leisurely visit to the spa, an extra-long bubble bath, and a glass of chardonnay. Take a day off, the magazines urge their harried readers. Rest.

There might be something to celebrate in this revival of Sabbath, but it seems to me that there are at least two flaws in the reasoning. First is what we might call capitalism's justification for Sabbath rest: resting one day a week makes you more productive during the other six. Or, as my father has often told me, I'll get more done working eleven months a year than twelve. And while that may be true, rest for the sake of future productivity is at odds with the spirit of Shabbat.

We could call the second problem with the current Sabbath vogue the fallacy of the direct object. Whom is the contemporary Sabbath designed to honor? Whom does it benefit? Why, the bubble-bath taker herself, of course! The Bible suggests something different. In observing the Sabbath, one is both giving a gift to God and imitating Him. Exodus and Deuteronomy make this clear when they say, 'Six days shall you labor and do all your work to the Lord your God.' To the Lord your God." (Excerpt from Mudhouse Sabbath by )

Shabbat isn't about me.

If it were, I would give up as soon as I "felt rested".

Life isn't about me.

If it were, I would have given up on this weary journey long ago.

Shabbat is about Him.

Life is about Him.

It's all about Him.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

"future trophy wife" (follow the link)

Judging from this post, I feel like Amanda I would be good friends! I can just hear myself ranting to a friend (namely, Alissa) over these same issues!

p.s. A reader commented that she was trying to keep her daughters' from dressing immodestly and from getting a 'diva' attitude. She summed it up perfectly when she wrote, "Diva is just a fancy for sinner."

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Snowdays and Sabbaths

“There is something joyful about storms that interrupt routine. Snow or freezing rain suddenly releases you from expectations, performance demands, and the tyranny of appointments and schedules. And unlike illness, it is largely a corporate rather than individual experience. One can almost hear a unified sigh rise from the nearby city and surrounding countryside where Nature has intervened to give respite to the weary humans slogging it out within her purview. All those affected by this are united by a mutual excuse, and the heart is suddenly and unexpectedly a little giddy. There will be no apologizes needed for not showing up to some commitment or other. Everyone understands and shares in this singular justification, and the sudden alleviation of the pressure to produce makes the heart merry.”

-Excerpt from The Shack by William P. Young

Living on a college campus, I feel that the anxiety of an anticipated snow day more than others. The number of prayers issued forth on a single wintry eve no doubt (and quite unfortunately) are exponentially higher than any other time (with the singular exception of exam week!). Once, when school was canceled halfway through the day, I was sitting in our cafeteria and could visibly watch people’s reactions as the joyous news spread throughout the tables of undergraduates.

All this makes me think. Why is it such a relief when we are forced to slow down? Could it perhaps be that we were created to slow down? Was this God’s original intent? After all, the first thing God does after the Creation of the world is rest. And He creates a special day set aside as a rest. Are snowdays simply a forced, modern substitute for the Sabbath?

Perhaps we should embrace this idea, the idea of a rest, a Sabbath, a slowing down. Think of the refreshment that comes from a single snow day. Why not gives ourselves that rest every week? Imagine setting time aside to simply live, breathe, exist.

Too busy, you say? I think not. After all, how much wasted time do you have each day that is spent surfing the internet or flipping TV channels? Put this time to good use, a make time for a Sabbath. Furthermore, a Sabbath would provide refreshment which would make the rest of the week run smoother. In essence, you are more prepared for the week because you have rested both physically and mentally so you will work faster and more effectively.

Try it. For the next month commit to setting aside one day as a Sabbath. Work ahead on projects so that you can truly rest. Spend that time with family or friends. Catch up on pleasure reading (a novality for any college student, or any adult for that matter!). Take a walk and breathe in nature while reflecting on Browning’s famous quote (“Earth’s crammed with Heaven and every common bush aflame with God”). Turn off the TV. Turn off the computer. Ignore your cell phone. Refuse to feel guilty over “wasted” time. Stop trying to make the most of every moment and learn to simply enjoy every moment.

Treat yourself to a “snowday.”




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