My dad is the king of Sunday morning. When I was growing up, Sunday was a day of ritual and beauty. Also, it should be noted that it had nothing to do with church or putting on fussy clothes or being anywhere at any particular time. It was about waking up to the smell of eggs cooking on the stove. (And not just eggs – dad eggs. These involved throwing random things from the refrigerator and freezer into the skillet to create awesomeness. I have tried this. Apparently it’s dad-specific magic.) It was about padding down to the living room in my jammies to find John Wayne or Judy Garland waiting to take me on some new adventure as I snuggled up on the couch and was issued a bowlful of eggs as provisions for my journey. It was about my dad taking his place in his big green chair to serve as my trusty guide. It was about family and digging in your heels to make time pass a little slower for just one day and enjoying each other… really and intentionally enjoying each other. It was Shabbat Shalom par excellence.
Now I have a family of my own and I try to keep some of the traditions of my non-traditional upbringing. I have an abiding love for ritual — whether that ritual belongs to my family of origin or my family of faith. I make a big Sunday breakfast before our midday mass and everyone pads downstairs in their jammies and snuggles up to the table for biscuits, eggs and bacon. We get everyone dressed and ready for church (an adventure easily rivaling any cattle-rustling/stampede-fleeing/mean hombre-chasing scene in a John Wayne movie).
At mass we pray, we sing, we kneel, and we receive the One who receives us with joy and forgiveness. We are reminded that the burdens of our week and the burdens of our community and the burdens of our world may be heavy, but we don’t bear them alone. The Sabbath is a day to put down our work and obligations and weariness and remember that. Remember that in this life we are not left alone under the weight of our stress and responsibility and heartache. We belong to the community of our family and the community of our faith and the community of our world. We belong in community with God (who, by virtue of the holy mystery of the Trinity, is community). Not only do we need to keep the Sabbath holy by making it a day of prayer, we also need to keep it real by making it a day of rest and intentional togetherness.
Lately I’ve been giving this topic — the topic of how to live a weekly Sabbath that honors God and tradition and the gift of our young, busy family — a lot of thought. For me, it boils down to this: eating together, praying together and playing together. The common denominator? Together. That’s keeping the Sabbath real. And holy.
How do you spend your Sabbath? How do you keep it real and holy?