The Book I’m Writing

Inhale… exhale…

FB friends know that I got word last week that a publisher [breathing] wants to offer me a contract [breathing again] to write a book I proposed to them earlier this year. I haven’t gotten the official contract but it’s in the mail.

I don’t want to go into it too much, but it’s basically about the practice of Sabbath-keeping and how that works in a family with two careers and young children. It will combine elements of memoir and personal reflection with more traditional non-fiction elements—research, maybe some interviews.

As part of my research, I ask you, loyal readers and random Internet wanderers: what comes to mind when you hear that word, Sabbath? Positive or negative connotations? Your own experience, or lack thereof? What, if anything, are you curious about?

Image: ‘Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. You shall do no work that day, neither your son nor your daughter, nor your slaves, men or women, nor your animals. Anyone who works on the Sabbath day must be put to death.’ The Brick Testament

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14 thoughts on “The Book I’m Writing

  1. Kelly says:

    Um, glad we don’t do the whole literal interpretation of the bible thing.

  2. Kally Elliott says:

    As a mother of three children in a family with two careers – I like the idea of Sabbath and I really do *try* to take a day off, however, when you have three young children…do you ever get a day “off?” Most of the time, my days “off” from work consist of frantically trying to get the laundry done, the bills paid, the house clean, and grocery shopping done. I also try to work some time in for friends and hanging with the kids. The spouse usually gets the short end of the stick. Sometimes “sabbath” is getting to sit in front of the tv watching “Keeping Up With the Kardashians.” For me, it’s really about moments of “sabbath”, when I am focused on being “in the moment”, hanging with my kids and loved ones and not feeling guilty (or, feeling guilty but consciously refusing to let it get to me) about not getting things done.

    Since I have been in my place of ministry for 6+ years now I have learned to let many work things go – or just to let them work themselves out. Being able to let work drama go has allowed me more time for sabbath, however, having more kids has increased the work load at home. As the woman in the relationship I do find that the majority of housework falls on my shoulders – and I’m not sure that that is my husband’s fault. I think I do it to myself – from making sure everyone is fed to laundry to making sure school work is done – I usually take on those responsibilities.

    A few months ago I spent a few days in Florida, at a beach resort, for an NCD conference. In the weeks leading up to the conference, I envisioned being able to fall asleep on the beach…AND THIS REALLY HAPPENED!!! IT WAS FABULOUS! I made a point of taking time from the conference for just me and God. This time “away” was GREAT for my spiritual life – well, it was great for being able to talk *at* God, I don’t really know if God thought it was so great 😉 – however, because of the cheesiness of the conference I left this time “away” pretty annoyed with the church! I LOVED being able to go to my room at night BY MYSELF and curl up in my hotel bed and watch HGTV for hours 🙂 To me, that was a kind of sabbath. But I was also lonely. The conferees weren’t great at reaching out to those who weren’t already in the NCD circles and being the extrovert that I am, I missed my family and friends.

    I think as a mother of three in a 2 career family, I have to find sabbath in the blessing of being able to raise my kids! Obviously, this definition of “sabbath” is not time off from work – raising kids is a huge amount of work – but if I can remember to be in the moment, celebrating this moment, this time that God has given me, relishing it, the kids, the husband, the friends, the community, grateful that my children are healthy and smart, that my husband is kind and loving, that my friends are amazing and funny and deep – I consider this to be Sabbath – in that I meet God in Christ in these relationships, and they remind me that though, I am exhausted – I am sooooo sooooo sooooo blessed.

    Whew. Thanks. I needed to write all that for my own processing!

  3. keithsnyder says:

    My wife is on last-minute weekend call any time her corporate masters decide she is, so any kind of regular weekend thing is out.

    It would be nice, though. Maybe when the economy recovers and abused employees can start saying “no” again.

  4. sherry says:

    Today is Sunday, the day of Sabbath. So far I have done 4 loads of laundry, helped set up a new computer, helped with homework, driven over 60 miles, and there are miles to go before I sleep…..

    Put me to death. Please.

    Seriously, I really do not get the whole Sabbath thing. Does it mean sitting around in the dark praying? Does it mean being intentional about what I am doing and if so, shouldn’t that be happening every day? Does it mean saying No and if so how do I explain that to the people who depend on my yeses?

    I can’t wait for this book.

  5. Grace says:

    As clergy in a diocese that harps continually on Sabbath-keeping and boundaries, I’m about evenly divided between rejoicing in my regular days off and wishing they involved a little more actual rest and refreshment and a little less cleaning and errands.

  6. Sharon says:

    so, as a pastor, married with a dog, I have different kinds of sabbath. One is alone and I love a good manicure and pedicure! You laugh, but that’s a sabbath treat for me. The other is with husband (with or without dog)–any time Nick and I can spend together outside of our respective workplaces is sabbath–sitting on the couch reading the paper; walk in the park (dog included); biking; canoeing–never a full day, but sabbath moments.

  7. Silent says:

    I guess I get both positive and negative associations with Sabbath. I want Sabbath, whether it’s a whole day or an hour or a part of a day, to be a natural rhythm for me–and it’s not. So then I feel bad and think, “okay, how can I do this better?” I work too much–or don’t work efficiently enough–or something. I want the time to relax, to not feel the pressure to be doing something else, to be aware of what I have and how blessed I am.

    And I want it to feel like a gift–I guess. I went to a retreat early in my ministry and when I saw the schedule, there was a couple hour block of time that was labeled, “Sabbath.” It was an unexpected gift to have a few hours of undedicated time–I wasn’t expecting it so I hadn’t brought work along or even a book to read or anything. It was wonderful. Now I know these retreats often have “Sabbath” time and I’m much more tempted to turn it into work time.

    Post on revgals today is reviewing a book about Sabbath. Between the two of you, thanks for the reminder to think about this!

  8. Mike Woods says:

    Walter Brueggemann has a study guide with TheThoughtfulChristian.com where he develops the idea of Sabbath as resistance. In the last session of his study he tells the story of Israel starting over after the exile. He writes:

    How astonishing that of all the conditions for entry into the community the party of inclusiveness might have selected, they opted for Sabbath! They made Sabbath the single specific requirement for membership.

    I commend his study to you. Barbara Brown Taylor also writes of sabbath as resistance in helpful ways (we need to practice it together as a community). I like the idea of sabbath as resistance so that we do not undo the gift that life is.

    Warmly,
    Mike

  9. Cathy says:

    When we lived in Wynnewood, PA we lived in a predominantly Jewish neighborhood where they walked to Temple on Saturdays. It was an inspiration to us as we would wave to our neighbors as they made their way to Temple. It was also educational to realize the ways that they would “get around” using anything mechanical for 24 hours. At first it seemed unimaginable…and, then i realized it was sort of like a day at the youth conference at Montreat…or Mo Ranch. (5-10 years ago before cell service intervened) I never miss technology at either of those places. In fact, i can remember being so happy to get to Kerrville and realize i probably couldn’t get a call. Or, at Montreat…no way was i going to be able to bring my phone to any activities. And, then it sounded very nice and relaxing…to spend time with your church family. And, then to come home and spend quality (i hoped) time with your loved ones. Alas, as a Realtor i work most Sunday’s during the year. So, the ones where i don’t work have sort of become real Sabbath’s for us. And, being a “p” i am always very very excited if i have a Saturday with nothing more planned than to garden, cook and play with my daughter. Alot of Houstonians still talk about the days following IKE. We were lucky and only went 2 days without Electricity…others went for 2-3 weeks. But, the feeling we all had was of community. Neighbors got to know one another. Tons of food was shared as the frozen meat began to thaw. I know that isn’t exactly restful, but it certainly took people out of their “own” heads for just a few days to see to the basic needs of themselves and others. I think i like that idea of the Sabbath most…actually paying attention to the World around me.

  10. Rachel Heslin says:

    I’ve actually been thinking a lot about your Six Days/Seven Days post. I really like the perspective.

    The three of us recently went to Hawaii for a week and had a (mostly) amazing time. One of the things I brought back from it was a desire to do more things at home. So much seems to be put off until later, so much seems overrun by multi-tasking such that we lose some of the fullness of the experience.

    What I’m realizing is that the concept of Sabbath meshes intimately with my desire to be present in my life. As a child, we lit the Shabbat candles every Friday and went to services. There was a feeling of tradition, family, and community, but I don’t know if I truly understood the meaning of Sabbath. For all that my goal is to be more present in my life at all times, there is much to be said for a dedicated time for quiet, for reflection, for communing with loved ones.

    Hmm. Still thinking out loud here. My Sundays are usually spent in preparation for the week to come (cooking, laundry, etc.) With the focus of intent, there is a sort of divinity to the domesticity, a nurturing of my family and household. But it’s different from a Sabbath. I think I need to ruminate on this some more, how the various aspects of divinity might flow into and support one another.

  11. […] big decisions this year, including the decision to say no to some things that allowed me to say yes to some other stuff. But the decision that has brought the most happiness is the decision to convert our dining room […]

  12. […] more about that later; suffice to say I’m all agog for this opportunity to get started on the book in […]

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