Sabbath is for practicing presence

Sabbath is for practicing presence

. 3 min read

On Sunday morning, I sat down at the kitchen table with nothing in my hands other than my coffee. No school work to be done, no bills, no devices, no grand plans. Just me and my coffee and my family. The kitchen table is the hub of our life. We do nearly everything there. That I sat down without an agenda is a rare and semi-miraculous thing. I looked at my family, each member, up and down, and said, "hey guys."

I had time to listen to oldest boy's entire plan for his next project. ALL the details.

I had time to listen to the middle boy's entire pretend flight of fancy. ALL the details.

I had time to listen to the little girl's wondering questions about which letters start our names. Over and over until she began to understand.

The Captain looked at me from across the table and marveled, "we made these people."

I made a mistake for several years, I thought that rest was something closer to pain-numbing semi-addictive behaviors, where you could disconnect, disengage and do whatever you wanted and forget the world. It was selfish and, worse, just plain wrong. I never felt rested or replenished after a good netflix binge, I felt tireder and emptier. Real rest isn't vapid escapism. Rest is something so much better and more active than that. Real rest is the gift of unhurried time, when you can connect, engage, and play like a child with those closest to you, in a sense of timelessness and delight.

Rest is where you enjoy the world.

We spend so much of our workaday lives building, arranging, and fussing over the zoomed-in details of the big picture that we only see the little pictures and their flaws we have to correct or manage. It's tired-making.

God says, the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.

We come with an off switch.

Anne Lamott says,

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”

You just need to turn off the right settings.

On Sundays, I turn that tiger mom setting off. I shove the school books in their cabinet. I leave my phone on silent. I turn on the mantra that says enjoy. And I am simply present. My attention isn't scattered across a million things, all of it is in just one place and ready to be applied to who's in front of me, what's in front of me. I am prepared to enjoy them.

There's a lot of magic that happens when you show up, all of you, full-tilt engaged without an agenda, only a coffee cup in your hand on a day of rest. There's a lot of bandwidth for wonder and mischief.

We've been keeping the Sabbath holy for about a year now. It's the day the kids anticipate with relish, they guard it jealously. DADDY IS HOME. ALL DAY. No agenda, no projects, no work obligations, just him and all his attention and us. They have complete and unrestricted access to him for most of the day.

Real rest is relational.

We relate to each other, we rest in the grace of the world, the miracle of it. We find the face of God in the face of our children.

One Sabbath, we built a lego trebuchet and spent an hour sighting it in.

Another we sailed paper boats down the creek near our house.

Another we played tag until we just couldn't any more.

Another we watched a cloud block the sun, we wondered at how the light changed the shades of green and gold in our forest.

Sometimes we are quiet together. These are my favorite times, when we are all gathered around the table, buried in our solitary pursuits, but communal in our silence. The kids are instinctively gentle with this time too, quieter, calmer than their usual energetic selves. They don't want to break the spell either. And that's how we keep it holy.