Sunday, September 18, 2011

Sabbath Rest

Every Saturday night, when the house is in order and the children are asleep, I light a candle. I do not light the candle until my schoolwork is completed for the week. I do not light the candle until the house is clean enough for me to tolerate. I get my house and my work in order, and then I light that little candle. I started doing this about three weeks ago, and it has really changed my life.

How could lighting a little candle change a life? You may ask. Allow me to elaborate!

Sundays have been difficult for a long time. I don't exactly remember when, but it feels like forever. Just the word, "Sunday" would make me secretly cringe, and I had no idea why. Years ago, when I first joined my church, Sunday was my favorite day! I would literally count down until Sunday- I adored going to Church so much! However, after Kurt and I got married and had kids, I found myself so exhausted and in need of... something... and Sundays became my least favorite day ever. Sundays were the days where "I can't get anything done!" because I didn't want to break the commandment to obey the Sabbath. My Sunday funk did not always exist. It varied from location to location, and season to season. But overall, I would say Sundays were not a good day for me. After Sunday came dreaded Monday, a day where I would literally slave over all the work that had gone undone on Sunday. I was doing this so wrong! I was seriously stressing out over the work I was supposed to be resting from! Wrong idea!

And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath. - Mark 2:27

This was the first scripture that I pondered. It felt so backward to me. I had become a pretty nasty person on Sundays and I didn't like it. I didn't like how I felt, or how I acted. This scripture confused me so much... but it stayed in my heart. Over the next few weeks I pondered it thoughtfully and prayerfully. I journaled, discussed, and poured out my heart in prayer. Slowly, precept upon precept, I began to learn about the purpose of rest on the Sabbath, and I could FEEL it change our entire home.

I found a book called Sabbath- FindingRest, Renewal, and Delight in our Busy Lives. The book was actually written for non-religious people and religious people of any practice, and examines various religious beliefs and philosophies dealing with the concept of a "day of rest." The book discussed the Sabbath, from Creation through Constantine, through to modern day. I did not pick up this book for help with my Sunday problem- the book was given to me years ago and I needed some mindless reading and this happened to be closest to the end of my bedroom's bookshelf. The book uses scripture references, thoughtful quotes, and borrows traditions from many religions- all to demonstrate the need for "rest" in our lives. I had no idea that this book would lead me to search my scriptures more, and find peace on Sunday, but I am thankful for it!!!

One of the first things that the book suggests is "Practice: Lighting Sabbath Candles" below is a small section.

The traditional Jewish Sabbath begins at sundown, the Christian Sabbath with morning worship. In both, Sabbath time begins with the lighting of candles. Those who celebrate Sabbath find that in this moment, the stopping truly begins. They take a few breaths, allow the mind to quiet, and the quality of the day begins to shift. Irene says she can feel the tension leave her body as the wick takes the flame. Kath says she often weeps, so great is her relief that the time for rest has come. This is the beginning of sacred time.

Even Sara, who does not celebrate Sabbath at all, tells me that when she has prepared dinner for her family and is ready to eat, she is especially fond of the moment she lights the candles. It is, she says, a kind of silent grace, a ritual beginning of family time.


Three generations back
my family had only

to light a candle
and the world parted.

Today, Friday afternoon,
I disconnect clocks and phones.

When night fills my house
with passages,

I begin saving
my life.
- Marcia Falk

Knowing I needed to do SOMETHING, I started small. I was already reading, praying, and journaling- what harm could lighting a candle do? I thought about when to light it, and I decided to light it Saturday night. I had promised myself that I would do ZERO schoolwork on Sundays- but I cannot tell you how often I found myself wide awake at 4am (because, it was still sort of "Saturday night" right???). No more! I decided my work needed to end before midnight- nothing was ever due Sundays anyway. So- by midnight, I have my house in order and my schoolwork finished, and I light my little candle. I light it Saturday night, and I literally breathe in the beautiful rest. I relax, I read, and ponder, I pray. I love it. I blow the candle out Saturday before bed, and I light it again on Sunday morning, and whenever we are in the house on that beautiful Sabbath day, the candle is lit.

I thought the candle might help me, but what I didn't realize was how much the candle would change my family. When my children see that candle, they know there is a different feeling in the house. We are all a bit better- more courteous, more quiet. Sundays are no longer the chaotic zoo they once were, they are peaceful, calm, and beautiful. I NOW fully understand why the Sabbath was created for man. We need the rest!

**Candle + music by Jenny Oaks Baker = instant peace in our home!

1 comment:

  1. LOVED this post!!! Nate refuses to do homework on Sundays, and I have felt like he is blessed because of that. Sundays can be tough, especially with young children!