Switch Off Sunday: Goddess Gail’s Sacred Sabbath

by Leonie Dawson on March 7, 2010

 

Hola gorgeous Goddess,

Hurrah! It’s that beautiful day of the week again… that ritual of making all or part of my Sunday switched off… logging off my ‘puter and doing some of those things I really wanna do… and just adoring my beautiful goddess life.

This week is something a little different… we’ve got a gorgeous goddess guest blogger to share her story about her own Switched Off Sunday ~ and how she makes it her own personal sacred Sabbath.

If you’re called to sharing about your own Switch Off Sunday with words & photos ~ please email [email protected] We’d love to hear from you!

Today’s gorgeous goddess guest blogger is Goddess Gail from Silvermine. I’ve adored Goddess Gail for years now – in my mind, she is a Goddess of Grace, and her faith and deep thoughtfulness are such beautiful medicine.

I invited her to share about her own experience of Switch Off Sunday & Sabbath, in words and pictures… here is her beautiful sharing.

Leonie, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about your Switch Off Sundays and your longing for Sabbath. You are right; without rest, we unravel. Big time. I am honored that you asked me to share a few more thoughts on how I keep the Sabbath.

Like everything else in my spiritual life, this practice is ongoing, growing, changing, developing all the time. I have spent many years thinking about and working on (no pun intended) how to incorporate Sabbath into my life. I have read several books on the topic and have included several elements and ideas from each of them in my current Sabbath practice. A few of my favorite Sabbath-themed books are:

Dan Allender’s book Sabbath

Lynne Babb’s book Sabbath Keeping

Ruth Haley Barton’s book Sacred Rhythms, especially the chapter on Sabbath

 

Marva Dawn’s book Keeping the Sabbath Wholly

and Lauren Winner’s book Mudhouse Sabbath.

Each one of these books and authors has helped me become a more faithful keeper of the Sabbath.

I have come to recognize that when I do not intentionally take the time to rest, I easily fall into a state of distress.

The journey of starting Sabbath…

When I began my investigation into the possibility of keeping the Sabbath myself – wholly or otherwise – I admit that I was somewhat skeptical. I remember two friends of mine in college who made the decision to “keep the Sabbath.” For them, it meant not shopping or working or even studying on Sundays. I remember wondering, “How can you succeed in college without studying on Sunday, the last day to cram all your homework in before beginning another demanding week of class work? They won’t be able to do it for long; the pressure to study will be too great.” But they were faithful to their commitment – and they both graduated from college with high praise and excellent grades and later became college professors. Interestingly enough, they ended up marrying each other soon thereafter and are now awaiting the arrival of their fourth child. Apparently, something about resting together clicked…

 

Unfortunately, they are the only two people I knew personally who have ever made a conscious decision to keep the Sabbath. And I met them more than twenty years ago. So my road to this place has been a solo journey. I am not complaining about it at all because having to do my own investigation and put the lessons I have learned into practice on my own has been a spiritually empowered exercise. There is not a lot of noise in the world around me that is drowning out my own internal and quiet voice. There are not a lot of hard and fast opinions on the topic, so I get to form my own – and then change them as needed. It hasn’t been an easy journey, but like every trip I have ever taken, it has been rife with valuable lessons learned, unexpected joys discovered, and also unavoidable falls and spills.

How I do Sabbath now…

Over all, I like where I am right now on this rest-making journey. In truth, I am approaching the place where I find that my week is centered on how I will keep the Sabbath. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday are days in which I begin to make plans for observing the Sabbath on Sunday. In order to be able to be fully present and find rest on the Sabbath: I do prep work on the days leading up to Sunday so that I won’t have to do anything I don’t want to do. I clean the house and get good food in the fridge and pantry and put everything away that might draw me into work mode. I choose what I will wear ahead of time as well – always trying to create outfits that will make me comfortable and colorful, consisting of pieces I love to wear and that make me feel most comfortable in my own skin and the layer of stuff I put on over my skin. I have found that as I am planning and doing the work ahead of time, I get excited about the restful day that is to come.

 

Like Leonie, I compile lists of things that I LOVE to do, things that fill me and refresh me and make me feel whole and at peace. I give myself permission to do those things on the Sabbath. More than that, I intentionally choose only those things – like walking and reading and journaling and drinking tea. I cut up magazines and make collages and then stare at them for long stretches of time. I add to my lists of things and people and activities I love. I spend time with people I love. I also spend a fair amount of the day alone. I sit in my study in silence. I lay on the floor and dream big dreams – Mondo Beyondo dreams. I tell myself stories. I write some of them down, but not all of them. I look at and hold some of the objects on my travel altar and my bookshelves and remind myself of how those objects came to me at just the right time in just the right way.

The only things I eat on the Sabbath are things I love. I don’t worry about calories or fat grams or weight loss. I think about how blessed I am to be surrounded by such bounty and so many choices. And I enjoy every bite, every sip, every crumb that I lick off my fork. On the Sabbath, I make space in my life, in my heart, and in my belly for joy. And I take it all in with gusto and gratitude.

Keeping the Sabbath tradition

But keeping the Sabbath isn’t always easy. There are days when life’s other demands seep in: I feel pressure to answer phone calls or write overdue emails or hang out with other people. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with any of those things – but sometimes on Sundays, they feel more like obligations than pleasures. There isn’t any joy in them on that particular day. On the other six days of the week, when obligations come up, I try to meet them. I will take a few deep breaths, put down whatever has me occupied at the moment, and do what needs to be done. Make the phone call. Answer the email. Cook dinner (I don’t like to cook at all). Do the thing that must be done.

However, on Sundays, I don’t give in so easily. Whenever I feel like I am sliding over into work or obligation mode on the Sabbath, I stop myself and breathe deeply and gently lay that thing aside. I forgive myself for forgetting the importance of rest and move back into a peaceful quiet place. I go to another room in the house or make myself a cup of tea or go for a short walk – anything to return to the sacred rhythm of that sacred day. That day is dedicated to resting my body, replenishing my spirit, and restoring my soul.

 

Being gentle with myself…

I am careful not to be too self-critical, though. I am someone who can easily slip into comparison mode. I think hurtful thoughts like: “I bet So-and-So is better at this than I am. So-and-So is much more faithful/spiritual/thoughtful/imaginative than I am, so I’d better find ways to catch up/be better than/outshine that person.” In fact, I try to not even compare myself with myself – “I used to be better at this… I should be better at this than I am…I am not good at any of this Sabbath stuff…Why bother?”

None of that is helpful thinking ever, never mind on Sunday. On the Sabbath day, I try hard to step out of that judgmental place, that comparative place. So at regular intervals during the day, I remind myself that I will never figure any of this out completely.

One of my goals is to be increasingly merciful to myself, especially at those critical and comparative junctures. Another one is to learn new ways to usher myself into a place of deeper love and respect for myself as I am right now. I am encouraging myself to accept the fact that I won’t ever get it perfectly right, ever. In fact, if I am in a mental place of “trying to perfect my Sabbath practice,” then I have turned it into yet another form of work and away from true rest. And that way of thinking defeats the purpose of the day.

Sabbath reflections

 

On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, I allow myself time to think about and process how my Sunday Sabbath went.

Do I feel rested?

Do I feel refreshed?

What did I do on Sunday that was most enjoyable?

What was least enjoyable?

What would I like to try to add to my list of joy-filled activities?

What do I want to take off that list?

How can I make it an even better day, an even more restful and restorative day?

Are there people I would like to invite to share that special day with me?

And above all, I give thanks for the blessing of rest, for the day of rest, for the joy that always results when I set time aside to set myself aside and rest.

In the end, my entire week is becoming increasingly molded around that one day: preparation for keeping the Sabbath and then remembering the joys of keeping the Sabbath.

Why not plan my life around rest rather than work on trying to fit rest into my busy schedule???

 

Creating your own gorgeous Switched Off Sunday…

Thank you so deeply, Goddess Gail of Grace for sharing your Sacred Sabbath story & photographs… they are deeply inspiring, and you are a wonder to behold.

I love the invitation and possibility of making my own Switched Off Sunday a Sacred Sabbath experience that I plan, create and mould my week around.

How you can join in this Switch Off Sunday:

You are so welcome to join me in switching off, for the day or the afternoon or two hours… and re-discovering the joys of being switched onto life outside the laptop… and enjoying a holy, sabbath experience.

How long will you Switch off today? What do you wish to create or experience?

For ideas on what to do… check out the masterlist of magnificent possibilities by clicking below.

 

Need some accountability?


  • Take a pen & paper out and write down how long you will switch off for, and what your glorious possibilities are.
  • Write it out in the Comments Circle & check back in later.
  • Blog/photograph about your Switch Off Sunday using the button above once you are done!

Happy Sabbath day, gorgeous Goddess!