Wednesday, February 19, 2014

A gift of a day

I am so excited about this - I had to share it.  
My congregation is hosting a sabbath experience on March 8-9, and here is the email people receive when they register.

A Message from Lake Nokomis Presbyterian Church:
We're delighted you will be joining us to kick off your 24-hour Deep Breath!
This "retreat" experience begins at Lake Nokomis Presbyterian Church and moves into your own home.  One of the reasons we are hosting this event is to help people experience sabbath time in your own ordinary life, as opposed to some place far away from your ordinary life.  To that end, we hope that by registering you have blocked out the full time - 4 pm Saturday until 6 pm on Sunday - and that you guard this time as you would a retreat you've driven 3 hours away to attend.  In other words, don't schedule anything overlapping, and think about how you might "pack" for such an event.

Here are some questions to help you "pack":
1. Consider what you would like to "leave behind" when you begin this experience. 
  • Would you bring your work laptop or papers to correct to a sabbath retreat away?
  • What about your cell phone, facebook, or the laundry?  
  • Would you want to spend that time away doing your taxes, preparing for your mother's visit, or fretting about a coworker conflict?  
What would it feel like a huge relief to leave behind for 24 hours?

2. Consider what you would like to "bring" to this experience. 
  • What activities give you joy or bring you rest?  Knitting, napping, drawing or dreaming, reading, or relaxing in the bath?  What do you need to do in advance to be ready to follow your heart if the moment arises - a good book? Some new yarn? A puzzle?  "Bring" those things to your sabbath retreat.
  • Food is part of your day.  Would you love a day not to cook? What can you get or do in advance to allow that? Would you love the chance to linger in the kitchen and create a lavish meal? What can you get or do in advance to allow that?
  • Who in your life will be sharing this experience with you?  Children? Spouse?  Friends? How can this day be a different kind of day for you all?  If you are alone a lot, consider spending part of the day with someone whose company you enjoy.  If you're around people a lot, consider finding a pocket of time each person in your house can do something alone, or plan an hour when everyone is quiet together (this CAN work with kids! - we'll talk about how, if you'd like!).  If you will be with a partner and/or kids, what do you enjoy doing as a family that you don't often make time to do?  What can you look forward to together?
What would it feel like a huge gift to be able to bring into your experience?

3. When the bus leaves...

Finally, the Jewish Sabbath begins right at sundown - not by a time on a clock or by someone's to-do list or when everything is finished and everyone is ready for it.  When the sun drops below the horizon, the Sabbath has begun. What is done is done, what is undone remains undone.  The important thing is that everything gets set down, so that space may be opened up within us and between us, to be met by God just as we are.
It is a day for being, instead of doing.

This means - even if the retreat day arrives and you have done no preparing, do not worry.  Get on the bus anyway - this day will be a blessing to you.  It really will!

And even if you get to the day and discover that while you "intended" to participate, some super important things came up and you simply do not have time, all the more reason you should be there and keep to the boundaries of your day set apart. Get on the bus anyway - this day will be a blessing to you.  It REALLY WILL.

Finally, as the day comes to a close on Sunday evening, we will provide you with a closing blessing to mark your transition back to ordinary time.  We will also have an online portal for participants to share about their experience with each other for those of you who would enjoy this.

Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have questions as the event approaches.

Peace, and we look forward to our time together!

Rev. Kara Root 

You could be getting this message too!
If this sounds really good to you - you probably need to join us.  
Find out more and Register at


  1. This is awesome. Something I would do if I were the pastor at my church.

    1. Thanks, Tam.
      You could participate from afar, if you want. Even if you're on your own - it's nice to do it when you know others are also doing it - we can hold you in prayer for you sabbath time alongside us.
      If you're so inclined, here's how you might do it:
      Set aside the time for yourself (on the calendar).
      Read Barbara Brown Taylor's chapter "sabbath" in An Alter in the World, or another intro piece on Saturday night.
      Find a worshipful thing to do - even if it is sitting in silence with a candle and a piece of scripture for 15 minutes, and let yourself begin sabbath time.
      Then spend the next 24 hours paying attention. Listening to the voices around you and the longings within you. Sharing that time with God on purpose. (Noticing how restless you get and how hard it sometimes is to not do chores and work!) Do what occurs to you in the moment that would bring joy, instead of something you feel obligated to do.
      Then on Sunday night, you can end the time by reflecting on - what gifts do I bring from this time into my week? And end with a prayer of thanks.


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