When we practice Sabbath, it should be strictly sweet and simple. We don’t have to hook up a bunch of responsibilities to our day off.
Simple may look like a nice meal with friends instead of a big potluck.
It may look like a picnic at the park instead of a long wait and a hectic and loud experience at a restaurant.
While we’re talking about sweet and simple–does worship have to be in a church? Does it have to be in an auditorium with a band and a praise team that has a record deal?
Simple and sweet can also look like singing songs in an oak forest or holding hands in prayer on a beach.
For those of you who keep a Sabbath, but don’t necessarily buy into religion, your Sabbath can look simple and sweet as well.
Simplify your Sabbath by keeping a little of the time completely unplanned. Make it sweet by making sure your unplanned time is with some people you love. Make it extra sweet by putting your phone away during this time too!
Sometimes the sweetest thing is the most simple natural thing.
Once you’re introduced to the simple Sabbath and with it all the peace and joy you could ever hope to have, you won’t want to go back to hectic, busy, jam-packed, over-scheduled, expensive, rule-oriented Sabbaths.
Can you imagine how much pressure may disappear from your shoulders if you have no pressure to do a lot or be a lot, spend a lot, or accomplish a lot? You just have to simply be with your family.
It’s like being invited to Christmas but not feeling the pressure to bring a gift.
How can you make your Sabbath more simple?
We’ve started spending time at our house more on Sabbath. We also try to use less electronics during Sabbath hours. Just this simple change has brought a lot of peace to our home on the Sabbath.
So what simple change can you make in your life to bring peace on Sabbath?
Perhaps by simplifying a few things, you can accomplish more rest, more peace, and more joy on Sabbath.
When some people think of ‘simple’, they have a negative image in their mind, so don’t confuse what I’m saying here. I think the most beautiful and peaceful lives are the most simple.
That’s why I find these 5 lessons from Japanese culture so, so sweet for Sabbath:
- Wabi-Sabi, or appreciating imperfect aesthetics. This is finding appreciation in the handmade, rough-hewn asymmetry of nature. They may seem unbalanced, but in its natural state, the earth is perfectly balanced. It is simple and beautiful and worth appreciating.
- Ichi Go Ichi E, or cherishing the moments. This is living in the moment and enjoying it as if the time you have with the people you’re with will be the only time you have. If this were true and you were truly cherishing the moment, what would you bring with you? Would you leave your distractions at home?
- Tea time. In Japan, sitting down to tea is about being equal. It’s a royal and a pauper sitting down with two cups, a tea service, and tea which someone worked hard to bring to the table. When you sit together for tea, you leave your weapons elsewhere because it is a moment of peace. In fact, during the Shogun period of Japan, tea houses were so small that no one could bring their swords inside. This symbolism has been adopted in the styles of tea houses for years to come.
- The fourth lesson is courtesy and preference–they are unrelated. The manners and respect for everyone is not only across all social classes, but also translates into work ethic for the Japanese. In a world where people are viewed skeptically, treat your guests well and treat everyone as a gift.
- Dignity and excellence is the last lesson to take from the simple culture of Japan and bring it into your Sabbath. If you are going to do something, take the time to do it, and spend resources and energy to do it, then you should do it well and succeed. Do everything with excellence. No matter if you observe Sabbath on Saturday or Sunday, or if you go to church or not, or whatever you’re doing–do it with excellence. Throw yourself in and enjoy it.
These are just some ideas for staying simple on Sabbath.