Yesterday was my third Sabbath. (I began this experiment on January 2nd.) This time, the Sabbath was different for me.
On Saturday of the first two weeks, I experienced a tremendous peak in productivity. It was akin to the feeling you may get on the last day at work before vacation, the mega anti-procrastination day when Plymouth Rock sized piles shrink before your very eyes and you drive home feeling (almost) totally in control.
Somehow, just knowing that Sunday was off limits for work made me push much harder on Saturdays…until the third week. But yesterday, instead of perfectly polished mirrors and squeaky clean floors, I gazed at toothpaste shrapnel on the kid’s bathroom mirror and my toddler’s Cheerios mixed with who-knows-what on the wood floor. Let me be the first to admit that I strongly preferred the first way of Sabbath practice, where all my household chores were done and gourmet Sunday lunch smells waifted into our garage to greet the minivan full of hungry church-goers.
This probably won’t come as a surprise to anyone, but it’s a lot harder to cease work when you don’t feel fully prepared. However, it is much more realistic to what my Sabbaths will feel like, not because I’d pick the less prepared way, but because I simply cannot sustain the pace of the cleaning wild-woman who visited my home those two prior weeks.
Quoting Jesus is pretty much always a good idea to me. He makes a great statement that relates to my struggle. It is recorded in Mark’s gospel, the second chapter: “The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the sabbath.”
At the heart of Sabbath keeping is the concept of restoration. Exhausting myself to perfect my home so that I can feel good about taking a day of rest is not at all what keeping the Sabbath is all about.
So, this week, things got far less comfortable. But surprisingly in week three, I think I started to get it right. Sabbath keeping can’t happen in a bubble; it has to make sense in real life.
Turns out that three times really is a charm.