Opening the Gifts of Space, Beauty, Rest, Delight, and Play
Part of the reason I created the Sacred Ordinary Days Planner in the first place was to have more fun. I'd seen so many planners lead people—myself included—down the path toward perfectionism. I wanted no part in that! I'd also heard plenty of teachers and preachers talk about the work of spiritual practices disembodied from our real, beautiful, hard, good lives, which ultimately isn't particularly helpful—or sustaining.
What about play? What about rest? What about delighting in God's abundant gifts to us?
I longed for a tool that made room for all of it—all of me. Work and prayer. Rest and play. Peace and purposeful productivity. Full awareness of the presence of God and also the gift of my own humanity. I couldn't find a planner or any other resource that integrated all those things, so I made one myself.
Our 2021 Daily and Weekly Planners launched on Tuesday, so I've been sharing and reflecting on their foundational aspects. One of those is keeping Sabbath, not just as a weekly rhythm, but as a practice woven throughout each day.
CEASE + FEAST
We care for our selves, our souls, our bodies, our families as an extension of God’s care for us. We are enlivened by, animated by, grounded in God’s care for us as we care for ourselves and others. The practices and rhythms we cultivate either help or hinder our ability to extend that care. So, let's model God's gracious, spacious, hospitable creativity as we consider them.
Sabbath is about resting, delighting in the world God created, and trusting God to be God beyond our work and prayer. Intentional spaces of rest help quiet the mind, heart, spirit, and body. They restore and rejuvenate us. Most of all, they remind us that our humanity is a gift given to us by God.
A regular practice of Sabbath honors our limits and allows space for a deepening experience of trust in God. When we willingly release control, our inclination toward self-sufficiency is gently removed. With unclenched fists, our own striving and tending fades. As we open our hands, we entrust our lives and our world to God again each week. While Sabbath offers us a rest from our work, we may also find that Sabbath allows us to work from our rest throughout the coming week.
Both Marva Dawn and my own friend Lacy Clark Ellman have said Sabbath is about ceasing and feasting. We cease from our labor—whatever it may be—and feast on God’s goodness—wherever we encounter it.
AN INVITATION TO REST
We most often think of Sabbath as part of our weekly rhythm. We go about our work and prayer for six days and, on the seventh, rest and delight in all that is—a reflection of God’s creation rhythm in Genesis. That day of rest may be Sunday, although if you’re a minister with services on Sunday, it’s most likely another day of the week. If you work in health-care, food services, or retail your day might shift unpredictably.
Anyone who’s ever truly attempted it can attest—fully setting aside our work for an entire day each week is easier said than done. We live in a world of constant demands and screaming, insistent (often false) urgency.
In his book The Dusty Ones, Dr. A. J. Swoboda says that rest does not come with “getting our lives in order. Rest is something God finds on our behalf.” He reminds us that the Bible never asks us to create or make Sabbath. Instead, we are invited to protect and enter it. Sabbath is a gift—and we must receive it.
SABBATH AS DAILY PRACTICE + WEEKLY RHYTHM
It may be helpful to think of Sabbath as both daily practice and weekly rhythm. Simple, daily practices of rest and delight train us toward the practice of Sabbath and keep our work sustainable. Daily invitations to stillness, scripture reading, and reflection, alternating rhythms of work and rest, plenty of open space and margin—these are woven throughout the Sacred Ordinary Days Planner.
These invitations help us enter into the gift of Sabbath, receiving it with open hands and glad hearts. They help us find new meanings and practices of Sabbath even in a time as strangely untethered as “Pandemic-tide” (our name for this singular season)—because Sabbath is for all times and all people.
1. SABBATH PAGE
We’ve included a Sabbath page each week to help you notice and cultivate this practice in your life. They bookend every week in both the daily and weekly formats. Our hope is that you will embrace a practice of Sabbath as part of your weekly rhythm on whichever day works best for you.
2. SABBATH QUOTE
Each Sabbath page features a quote that is meant to engage your emotions, thoughts, and actions. The quotes are drawn from primarily Judeo-Christian voices in a variety of texts, hymns, songs, and chants. You may connect with some quotes more than others. Consider the invitation each might extend to you.
3. OPEN SPACE
Use this space to journal, jot down your reflections on the lectionary passages, draw, doodle, or simply be reminded of the importance of incorporating lots of “open space” into your life through a practice of Sabbath-keeping. These intentionally unfilled areas rest the mind and eye while drawing our focus toward what is most important.
We've chosen to let this be the primary feature of the page, knowing that a practice of Sabbath, for most of us, will change and grow through seasonal shifts. Our desire is to extend this as a fixed invitation, but never a prescriptive list of shoulds or oughts beyond what scripture offers us.
4. WEEKLY PRIORITIES
Spend time at the start of each week considering the week ahead. What is most important? What needs tending? Allow yourself to enter each week with an awareness of what matters to you. We've intentionally included two sets of seven weekly priorities so that you can use one for your personal life and the other for your vocational life, one for your to-dos and one for your meals, or any other combination that suits you in a given week.
5. REVISED COMMON LECTIONARY*
The lectionary is a three-year cycle used in corporate worship across the world and throughout centuries that guides churches through the Christian Scriptures. Many versions of the lectionary exist, and our planner draws from the Revised Common Lectionary (RCL), a widely used ecumenical resource. The weekly lectionary rhythm includes four texts: one each from the Old Testament, Psalms, Epistles, and Gospels. Some feast days carry their own lectionary passages, and these are noted in the planner on the appropriate days.
* Lectionary texts are included on the Sabbath pages in the daily planner format. Sabbath pages in the weekly planner format omit them (see below), as they are included on the weekly spreads instead.
Find additional Sabbath resources here on our website.
IT’S YOUR TURN
How do you make room for open space, beauty, rest, delight, and play in your life? Do you cease and feast in your practice of Sabbath? Do you observe Sabbath on Sunday or another day of the week? How would you like to welcome the gift of Sabbath? What invitations to rest and delight is God holding for you right now? How might you lovingly protect the Sabbath for yourself or those in your care and keeping, so that you may receive it as the gift it is?
P. S. Want to try the planner alongside us? You can get a one-month sample PDF of either the daily or the weekly planner for just $4. If you want more than a month, download the September–November 2020 daily or weekly planner PDF. It'll tide you over until Advent when our 2021 Liturgical Year B Planners begin.