I am so bad at this.

I try to take a Sabbath and the massive amount of stuff in my life that needs to be managed begins to crowd my thoughts and I start to feel like I’m wrapped up in barbed wire.
When I consider “taking a day off”, my mind loosens up a bit, and the immediate result of the clarity seems to be a fresher approach to work-related stuff. After an hour of “sabbath”, I find myself itching to get back to work, to put to good use the fact that my brain seems to be able to think again.
I know better, of course. I try to run away from those thoughts, reminding myself that they’ll still be there tomorrow.
I have to remind myself, all the time, that He is God and I am not. Isn’t that pathetic, that I have to work to remind myself of that? Duh.
I thought I’d take some time for myself today, maybe use a generous birthday gift and treat myself to a pedicure. But then I remember that I’m wrestling with the idea of generosity and that $25 spent on my feet is ridiculous on so many levels. So maybe I should not do that. And by the way, don’t forget to pay the mortgage. And it’s my Sabbath/day off, so maybe I should clean the bathroom, but that’s not really a day off, is it? But then again, am I entitled to a day of indulgence? There are so many things I let slide in terms of taking care of my home. I should use this time to catch up, to honor my family.
But then again, there’s a difference between Sabbath and a day off.

Kevin Salyer was always so good at this. So – what would Kevin do?
I have decided. Here is what I shall do:
1. Listen to Michael Gungor’s Beautiful Things as I clean myself up a bit – NOT the bathroom.
2. Take Elizabeth Berg’s most recent book; finish it as I do the pedicure thing. See if it feels like an indulgence.
3. Drive to RVA. Hit up the new version of the VMFA. Soak it up and see what happens.
4. Stop by Martins (my first time) on the way home. Gather groceries. Come home and cook a fabulous meal for my family.
5. Hopefully work out in the midst of all that…somewhere…though that might be a bit unrealistic.
I’m hoping that in the midst of it all, I’ll catch a glimpse of glory.

On Giving Up And Bringing Back

It is Monday. The rhythm of my week is such that Monday often brings a welcome respite of a whirlwind of activity. Many of us who lean into Sunday as the highlight of of our work week find Monday as a necessary day of rest and recovery, not only of physical energy but (even more so) of mental and emotional rejuvenation.

However, my schedule has been such that I couldn’t take Mondays off. There’s too much to do to prepare for the week. This afternoon I have a meeting scheduled.
But I gave myself permission this morning to escape the massive amount of pressure looming around my personal and workplace responsibilities. It’s been a quiet day at home, with a few work-related things tended to, but mostly just being here. I was here to braid my daughter’s hair and talk about…well, stuff. I was here to get dinner started in the crock pot. I was here to talk to my mom on the phone without feeling rushed. I was here to listen to a recording of my brother’s most recent talk at his church, and to find out that he just finished an application to begin seminary studies (that’s me you see, the big sister beaming with pride.)
I’ve been thinking about Lent, and about how little my life changes to observe this season of sacrifice. I cling to the writings of those who practice Lent, but it’s from afar. It’s not internal. I just watch. I don’t think you get credit for voyeuristic Lenten sacrifice.
So I’ve wrestled with the notion of “giving up” something – chocolate? The internet? Caffeine? Soda?
I decided on none of those things, because, to be honest, my heart is not in it. I would be engaging in the practice simply to keep up appearances. As necessary as it is to cleanse my soul of some things and to make a sacrifice, the frenetic reality of my current circumstances makes “giving up something for Lent” simply another thing to check off on my to-do list. And I am convinced that to offer sacrifice like that renders it pretty much worthless.
But this morning, I balanced these thoughts with something definitive and specific, an action that I took in order to observe the brilliant opportunity of the day and the utter luxury of the time and space around me.
I held to my own time apart. I stayed home, spoke with my daughter. Fixed a meal for my family.
And I was quiet. I turned off all electronics and sat on the couch. When the rain began, I heard it and I noticed.
In the interest of full disclosure, I will admit that I fell asleep for a short time.
But somehow, I think that this quiet is exactly what my Sabbath ought to look like.