It’s a risky thing, to thrust comments like “find your Sabbath” and “go to church” out into cyberspace. Any time someone offers religious or political commentary without the benefit of the Holy Spirit of Healthy Relationships acting as intermediary, there’s a risk. So let it be known that what I say I am saying to myself…and maybe to my children if they are willing to listen.
There are multiple layers of benefit that may be derived from the observance of a Sabbath. I’m not going to get doctrinal here, just going to speak from the heart.
First, and most logical to the natural man…meaning the non-religious among us…is the “setting apart”. Even if you don’t believe there is a God who designed and created this spinning orb on which we live, you likely understand the logic in allowing oneself a day that is different from the rest; a day that’s set apart. The simple change of routine is healthy. Allowing oneself to rest from the regular labors of the week is refreshing. But to observe an actual Sabbath, where we reconnect and refocus spiritually, we become more than refreshed, we become rejuvenated. Rejuvenation means to be restored to a former state, or made fresh or new again. Because I consider myself an old spirit who happens to be housed in a relatively new body, my Sabbath becomes the day when I focus on that spirit and its connection to its roots…its old home…it former stompin’ grounds, so to speak. My religion is the thread that connects me to that former Home, which I believe will also be my future Home. I can sit in an easy chair, or out in nature and try to meditate, study and pray, but that gets really hard for me. I fall asleep. Which leads me to part two...
… Go to church.
Besides the obvious; the renewing of sacred covenants in partaking of the holy Sacrament, there are benefits to gathering with people from a variety of backgrounds, with different tastes, and even varying degrees of faith and spiritual understanding. Focusing in a united way on the quest to return to a divine source is beautiful to me. It is beautiful in my own LDS church, and it is beautiful when we go to Catholic Mass with our Catholic family, and it is beautiful when we attend other services as well. But the covenants that are sacred and central in my life make it essential for me to attend my own church, and partake of the Sacrament as it is blessed by those who have received what I sincerely believe to be divine authority.
A friend once told me that we are all three weeks away from inactivity. It made me laugh, until he explained it. He said the first week we stay home from church is fine. We all have good reason for this occasionally. The second week can even be ok - illnesses can last this long, as can other obstacles that get in the way. But there is something about three weeks away from the pattern that makes it feel kind of easy to not go back. We decide it’s really easier to just hang at home, to get our chores done, or go shopping or to the zoo. Pretty soon going to church is something we consider doing only on the high holy days, like Easter of Christmas. Otherwise, it’s just too heavy. Caution to myself: Except for illness, make no excuses to miss more than two weeks of church.
Lastly, if you’re able, gather with someone you love and share a Sunday dinner. If you’re really lucky, you can gather with family. I cherish, more than words can say, the sounds around our Sunday table…the conversation, the clanging of utensils against plates, the giggles and wiggles of little ones. The aromas and the tastes and the warmth and the love. Stories about Sunday School lessons, reviews of the goings and comings of the week. I sift back through the demands of my regular work-a-day life to find these Sabbath aesthetics and I automatically breathe slower, and deeper and the air of these moments is sweeter and cleaner and…and holy.
I recently read this, posted by someone I don’t know, but who obviously knows my heart:
My personal belief is this: I believe the primary purpose of the Sabbath is to preserve the “religion of our families.” The word “religion” comes from the Latin “re-ligare” which means “to bind.” The Sabbath has always been thought of as the day in which we “get religion”…but if we take the true meaning of religion as our guide…the Sabbath is actually a day set apart for us “to bind” with our families.
That is why we come together on Sunday. To be with and strengthen both our immediate and ward (church) families.
My Sabbath rule: Always make sacrifices that strengthen your relationship with God and with family. You know you’re violating the Sabbath if you are making sacrifices that weaken those relationships.
Sunday may not be a true day of rest, in the most literal sense of the word. It is often physically exhausting. But it is, for me, a day set apart, designed to strengthen my bonds with my God, with my family, and with the ancient spirit inside of me.