Monthly Archives: December 2012

Sabbath in the Suburbs: August (chapter 13)


Here we are, the last chapter in a yearlong Sabbath adventure. And with a new year approaching, perhaps it’s an opportunity to think about how we might fit Sabbath into our New Year’s resolutions?

The big idea of this chapter is the discussion of Scarcity and Abundance. In the church we talk a lot about God’s Abundance–and how we live in a culture of perceived scarcity, while God promises Life Abundant. Generally we talk about God’s abundance being ENOUGH–there is enough for everyone, so we don’t need to hoard resources. It’s meant to be a corrective to our Western cultural influences that tell us there’s a game going on and the only way to win is to get the most of everything, and keep others from getting much (if any). It’s a winner-take-all game. But God’s good news is that there is Enough.

But when it comes to time, is that really true? MaryAnn points out that if we believe there is enough time for everything we want/need/could/should do, then life becomes a puzzle to be solved. If we can’t fit all the pieces in, then we must not have tried hard enough. Instead of being good news, it sets us up for failure. Because the reality is that there is always more to do, more good to accomplish, more opportunity, than there is time.

So perhaps the issue is to learn to live with the scarcity of time–because then we simply work with what we’ve been gifted by the Creator, and remember that we are not the One who makes it all work. It does mean setting priorities and working with what we have, admitting that we can’t do it all (however much we might like to). But once we admit the scarcity of time, it becomes easier in some way to shift that thinking just a bit further into the Sabbath keeping practice.

We use the word “practice” for a reason, of course–because no one is ever going to be perfect at it. We just keep trying, sometimes improving and sometimes failing and most of the time falling somewhere in the middle. We keep at it, knowing that there is value in the practice, in the repetition, in the space. Not just value, even, but holiness.

One of the ideas MaryAnn discusses in the book (I can’t remember which chapter it first appeared) is the idea of “Looney Tunes”-ing something. You know how sometimes in the cartoons, a character looks at something or someone and sees something else? ie, they look at a pig and see bacon, or at a tool and see a game, etc. So next time you see something that is a reminder of things you haven’t done, imagine instead things you have done. For example, MaryAnn had a glass milk bottle that sat on the counter for months. It was a reminder of the fact that they hadn’t been back to the farmer’s market for many weeks. But by “Looney Tunesing it” she could also see all the things they HAD done–it became a visual reminder of games played, artwork created, time spent together as a family, bike rides taken, etc. Maybe your thing is a pile of laundry that needs to be folded, or a sink of dishes, or cat hair on the blankets, dust on the furniture…what do you see when you think of the things you did instead of those chores? I might look at the pile of unread magazines and see a dinner with friends, or at cat hair on the duvet and see a novel I finally finished, or at laundry still in the dryer and see an afternoon spent creating an energizer with teenagers.

How might this trick help you when the “do-more” guilt starts to creep into your Sabbath practice? Are there other tricks or tips you can share that might help the rest of us as we try to practice Sabbath?