Yesterday was Sunday and I didn’t write like I said I would. I woke up planning to, but as the day went on, I realized there was something more important to be doing than writing.
If the idea of ‘Sunday as a day of rest’, or ‘keeping the Sabbath day holy’, grates you too, don’t worry, I’m not here to pour salt on Biblical wound. The rebel in me resisted these rules that, in my house, meant I had to miss soccer games that fell on a Sunday. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t go do what I loved, just this once, when every other Sunday (and Wednesday) we were at church, and sometimes twice in the same day.
The ritual was empty for me and as an adult, quickly fell to the wayside.
In more recent years my Sunday’s have become more soulful; long walks in the hills, writing under a tree, or sometimes it’s when I get to dance and teach Embody. The meaning that was lost on me as a child has revealed itself; a time for me to connect with my understanding of God in a number of ways that look different depending on the day.
This summer I read Mirabai Starr’s Wild Mercy, a beautiful exploration of the divine feminine through the lens of various cultures, theologies, and human experiences. There is so much goodness in there, it’s one of those where every page could take a week to digest and actually put into practice. I had to talk about it with people. So some friends of mine got together for a Wild Mercy book club, which meant I opened up the book again, and this time, the part that hit home was about honoring the Sabbath.
You can read the book for yourself to get Mirabai’s perspective on why this is so important, and I’ll share with you why it struck a chord with me.
The Rebel in me that was fighting so hard to protect Sundays as a day for freedom, could finally chill out as my inner Lover showed up; the part of me that craves ecstatic intimacy and can not wait for some alone time with her Love.
The Lover in me wants peace and quiet, a spacious day where lounging in bed is more than allowed, it is invited.
She wants to wear a long silky dressing gown and glide around the house without noticing (or caring), or doing anything about the cushion that might be out of place. That can wait until tomorrow, because today, her sole responsibility is to take pleasure… in her body, in her surroundings, with her partner, her children, and with the Divine.
Perhaps she meets with the Divine alone, or perhaps she shares communion as she lays in her partner’s arms, or watches her kids draw purple elephants.
Pleasure, intimacy, union, can come in many shapes and forms, but its bedrock is a spirit of Rest, and the Lover in me has been called to protect this bedrock from the stress of the to-do list and ‘having to get it done.’
You know how this works. A spontaneous, ‘let’s go for a walk’, is so much more joyful than fitting in the walk in between picking up the milk, dropping off the dry cleaning, and timing it all perfectly so you don’t burn dinner in the oven.
There is definitely a time and place for the list, and the focused, disciplined, energy it takes to make a plan and stick to it. That’s how great things are achieved and cool things are built.
That’s not a great way to make love though. The Lover is relaxed enough to notice a desire and act on it with full presence and devotion, where nothing else matters in the moment other than the recipient of its love and affection.
In Wild Mercy, Mirabai shares that, “in Judaism, the highest blessing and commandment is to make love to your spouse on Shabbat… [it is a time to] reach for your beloved.”
Of course, this all makes sense now; reach for your be – loved. Reach for the thing that you love and BE an expression of love towards it. It doesn’t have to be a spouse; just any part of creation that you can open your heart to, and make room for some Love to pour through.
Love is rarely hurried, frazzled, stressed, sharp, or too busy to listen, care, or share.
Reserving Sunday’s as a day to re-charge my Love life is only recently weaving its way into my story.
When I was in college, Sundays were for ‘the long run’. We’d bust our ass on Saturday at a race and then Sunday ‘recover’ by running 9-12 miles. I still marvel at how my body did it; 7 days a week without a guilt-free break.
Once I started working Monday-Friday, the weekends became the time to ‘catch-up’ on the work I couldn’t fit into the 40-50 hours I was at the office during the week. And because Sunday’s were quieter, with hardly any emails coming in, they became very productive days.
Working for myself, not much changed. I’m in full control of my schedule and yet I waited until the weekend to write that post I wanted to write, or send those few emails. It’s like I had a hangover from my M-F job; fill my schedule with busy-ness (which looks so vaguely similar to ‘business’…) that by the time the weekend came, the critical things weren’t done, but I finally had the ‘space’ to do them.
Except with this pattern I still never had a day off; a time to recharge, reboot, let alone be still long enough to hear myself think. And a day just for love making? Never.
As I’m entering my 7th year of working for myself, this go-go energy isn’t working for me anymore. I need more ebb and flow to sustain me.
Which is why I opted out of writing yesterday. Yes I won’t have longer than a 6 day writing streak, but I will have more life in me. Last I checked, that’s kinda the point.
If you’re liking this idea of revisiting the Sabbath… a day off to reboot recharge, do nothing except make time for Love in your life, I highly recommend Mirabai’s book. In case you don’t pick up the book, here’s some suggestions to play with. See what works for you. There’s no right or wrong here, or rules to follow (or break), just making room for more pleasure and your inner Lover to be in charge.
Make a date. See what feels right… is it one day a week, a month? A 3 day break each season? Can you reserve a full day, or is a few hours the place to start? You pick.
Create a container. What and who is joining you and what and who is staying behind? Eg phone, email, social media, laptop, kids, partner, family, friends? Say Yes to what is going to give space for more nourishment, pleasure, Love. Say No to what feels depleting, stressful, even toxic. (This is basic boundary setting.)
Intention. This is different to a plan, and you’re not here work on that DIY project you keep putting off. What is it you want to reserve this sacred time for? Try playing with things like Rest, Silence, Stillness, Spacious, Pleasure, Nourishment. I know, slightly counter-cultural, but see what happens when you let these forgotten beauties become your guiding light for the day.
Feed your inner Lover. Make time for the caress, the kiss, the squeeze. Which might look like letting yourself experience the joy of ice cream for breakfast. Or skipping the run if it’s pouring rain outside (unless running in the rain is your thing). You don’t need to make love to another person (although that’s allowed), just let that part of you that wants to delight in your life actually experience a delight.
If you run your own business, consider encouraging your clients and customers to honor their own version of Sabbath, as in, time for them to connect with their off-line life; which might mean honoring their weekend and staying out of their inbox until mid-week.
Or consider when you choose a date for the event; is it for the highest good of everyone to hold it on a Saturday or Sunday?
As someone who offers group events that tend to fit with weekend schedules, this re-evaluation for my own work feels risky. Will I lose potential clients if we only meet midweek when there is usually more competition for time, including career and childcare commitments?
This way of thinking feels scarce… the complete opposite of how I want to feel about my work. I’m going for spacious; the same way I feel after an actual day off.
I’ve also had to ask myself, when will I bring the most replenished version of me? Sundays are rarely a high-energy day for me. I learned that the hard way.
I’m experimenting with a way of doing business that does not require busy-ness, scarcity, or squeezing offerings in. While at first it might mean not everyone is free on the days I’m available, I’m also trusting that there is a way for our contribution to the world to be aligned with values that nourish, instead of deplete, our vitality.
As you start to give care to your own personal Sabbath, see what starts to feel right for your work too.