Saturday, February 8, 2014

The Sabbath Project

So here's the thing... sometimes I get an idea in my head, and not only do I want to try it, I want to get a whole bunch of other people to do it with me...

Which is why right now I'm participating not only in a "Biggest Loser" contest at work. (ha ha ha ha ha!), but I'm also spearheading a Sabbath Project with our congregation.

Because, as my husband would tell you, I'm completely crazy.

Or passionate and dedicated.

Or both?

Strangely, The Biggest Loser and The Sabbath are very much related...

 A bunch of my co-workers and I had been bemoaning our waistlines and poor eating habits and low energy and cravings, etc over lunch (weeks and weeks of lunches). So we decided to all go on a diet together. Eating a small salad for lunch can be pretty sad when everyone around you is eating heroes and chips or Chinese fried rice.  It's not so bad when everyone else is also eating a small salad. And since we were all dieting, hey why not put some money down and make it sporting!? So, we all put in $100 bucks and submit to (thankfully private) weigh-ins on Friday mornings. So far we are all eating better, and the waistbands might have loosened a little bit.

Similarly, some folks in our congregation have been bemoaning our lack of gravity and quiet in this overstimulated, over tweeted, over scheduled modern life. So, we are trying to "diet" together from the noise. We each choose a day to set aside phones and computers and work and shopping.  We are starting small, but hoping that more people will catch on to how great it is to STOP.

I mean, it was really, really great. Not easy, not convenient... But wow, I couldn't believe how quiet my mind was for most of the 24 hours of our first Sabbath. It was like a switch had been pressed. Usually my mind is one long news feed of observations, worries, to do lists, worries, frets, shopping lists, wishes, anxieties, plans...

(Every one's minds are like that, right?!)

But after we watched the sun go down on Saturday night... quiet.  The news feed was silenced. I stopped writing lists. I stopped fussing over the couch pillows and picking up toys off the floor. I resisted putting laundry away.  I didn't check my phone every 5 minutes. It was wonderful.

We are observing our Sabbath from sundown Saturday to sundown Sunday.  And yes, by Sunday afternoon we were all kind of checking the sky a bit expectantly. The kids, especially, were hoping that their magical screens would be returned to them as soon as the sky turned dark.  I was a bit sad, knowing that the endless feed of lists and the plans and the worries would probably be turned back on.  I did need to get ready for a week of work/school. Backpacks did need to be organized and lunches planned. But still, we waited til the sun was all the way down...

Here is what I noticed from my own first Sabbath ever:

I really didn't miss Facebook at all. Sorry, "friends"... but suddenly I wondered why I spent so much time scrolling through ads, political and religious articles and updates on vacations from people I don't really know. After the sun set on Sunday night I resolved to edit my "friends" list and be a bit more judicious about my FB time.

We avoided doing "work" as much as possible... although I did have some "church work" to perform. I'm going to claim it as "service" and call it a day.  Minimizing the schlepping and chores I need to do in service of the congregation is possible, eliminating it is not.  (And I wouldn't have it any other way.)

Here was the tough part: Traditionally the Sabbath is a day of rest. A day of joy.  No work. But, I'm still a Mom. And motherhood is a lot of Work. And sometimes, not so joyful. Snow pants still have to be struggled on, pajamas still have to be put away, teeth brushed and hair done. Loud reminders still have to be issued not to jump on the furniture. Whining has to be listened to and fighting in the car stopped.  So figuring out how to Not Work and still Mother is tricky. Very tricky.

Today, Saturday, I'm looking forward to sundown. I'm looking forward to quieting my mind and loosening up my heart.  I'm also looking forward to more loosening of the waist band.

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