Sabbath's Good Slow Work in Us

In our family, we are Sabbath novices, but we've come to love the small tastes of it that we've experienced so far. We had been out of the rhythm of a weekly Sabbath for a while in the weeks right before and after our daughter's birth, but life is now getting a bit closer to having normalcy again, so we've enjoyed jumping back in to our experiments with Sabbath.

Last week, we had begun our Sabbath together as we normally do with supper and unplugging ourselves from email, text messages, etc. And since it was one of the two nights each week when we're allowed to water our grass in the local drought-time water restrictions, I went out into our yard after supper to get our sprinklers running. (Some of you from other parts of the country will have no concept of this. You always have green grass without working for it. The tradeoff is that while your yard could stand to be mown every 5 days or so, I've only mowed twice this whole year.)

As I went out to set up the sprinklers, my son wanted to tag along as he often does. So he played while I got things going. Then, after a bit my wife also came out with our baby girl and they rocked on our porch swing. It was a good, slow evening of pushing my son in his new swing set while knowing that there wasn't anything else that I needed to be accomplishing on that night.

Eventually I went over to sit with my wife and baby on the swing. (Thankfully, the yard is big enough for the sprinklers to be running and not getting us wet while we're doing these things.) As I walked over, I could see his eyes looking at the sprinklers, with an idea brewing in his two-year-old mind. I told him, "Bud, go ahead and run through them if you want to." He got close enough to get a little wet, but wasn't very sure what else to do.

I sat down on the swing next to my wife while he stood there getting a little wet. He asked me to come play in the sprinklers with him, and although I was in a good, slow Sabbath mode, it hadn't progressed far enough to let me lower my resistance to getting soaked in my clothes, and I declined the invitation.

About a minute later, my wife said, "Oh, why not?," handed me the baby and went to give our boy a lesson by example in how to get thoroghly soaked by your back yard sprinklers.

They were both laughing as hard as I've ever seen them, and it continued for a while. The longer it went on the sillier they got, with our son eventually losing himself in belly laughs while my wife carried him around encouraging him to shake hands with the leaves on our tree as the sprinkler continued to soak them. I enjoyed watching their fun as much as they enjoyed having it.

There are seven days each week, but we're finding that stuff this good is much more likely to happen during one of them when we're in the rhythm of practicing the Sabbath.

It's a 24-hour period when we set the boundaries around ourselves to entrust whatever hasn't been accomplished into God's hands. This reminds us that regardless of how hard we work during the other six days, our work is really only a very small piece of all of the good that God is working to accomplish in our world; his kingdom actually survives just fine even when we lay the striving aside for a day.

It's a 24-hour period when loving and enjoying each other are among the highest priorities on the things we have to do. All of the emails that need our responses, all of the blog posts there are to write, and the myriad of other things get laid aside once each week. And we're falling in love with it.

P.S.: If you're curious, or looking for a way to become Sabbath novices in your house too, Ruth Haley Barton's chapter on Sabbath in her book, Sacred Rhythms, was one of the main things that opened the door for us.