Seeking a Delightful Sabbath

Sundays are interesting for me. They have been for some time and only seem to get more complicated. It really started when I first came to BYU. My family had very strict Sabbath day observance rules (no bikes, no TV, only Church videos, only read Church books or biographies, no pool or ping-pong, no hanging out with friends, no homework, no shopping, no eating out, etc.), which I always knew where stricter than most people, but didn’t really grasp how much so until I was at BYU in the dorms. We always spent the day together, ate dinner with long conversations about what we had learned at Church with correction taking place if my parents felt it was necessary, and frequently played games, Clue being a favorite. I went (and still go) to my grandma’s house in Orem for Sunday dinner. Aunts, uncles, and cousins gather there and it is wonderful. The food is delicious and the company is great. We eat, talk, and usually play Mormon bridge (a variation of Rook, that may or may not bear any resemblance to bridge). However, that only takes up a small portion of my Sunday. What do I do with the rest? Particularly given the scriptural exhortation to make the Sabbath a delight.

“If thou turn away thy foot from the sabbath, from doing thy pleasure on my holy day; and call the sabbath a delight, the holy of the Lord, honourable; and shalt honour him, not doing thine own ways, nor finding thine own pleasure, nor speaking thine own words:

Then shalt thou delight thyself in the Lord; and I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.” Isaiah 58:13-14

I go to Church for all three hours and usually can pull out something insightful and productive, even if it’s not how I would do things. I currently teach Gospel doctrine once a month or so and love that. It is wonderful. I go to my grandma’s like I mentioned. I typically write my blog posts. But other than that, I’m not quite sure what to do. I have hours of time that I don’t know how to use. Once a month some of that is spent home-teaching or being home-taught, but for the most part I just kind of watch it slip into the future.

I still don’t do homework or other work on Sundays and like that break. I try to only read more Gospel-related materials, but usually don’t do a ton of that, even though there’s loads I could read.

Part of the problem I think is that Sundays just don’t really feel that different from any other day of the week. This is probably partially due to my immersion in the bloggernacle and attendance at BYU, where all things Mormon have a pervasive presence in my day-to-day life. There’s nothing particularly novel for me about talking about Mormon-y stuff, since I do it all the time. Church is different and the sacrament is different, but I don’t know, they don’t really feel that unique.

This really bothered me as a missionary. Sundays were no different than any other day of the week, except that we had more hours of largely useless meetings at Church than usual. All the days of the week just blended together, which isn’t quite the case now, but something similar is at work. The Sabbath is definitely not a “delight” for me. I want to change that.

I’m not quite sure how. I don’t know how to differentiate the day in ways that will make it delightful, but I want to try. I asked some friends and received some interesting answers that may help, but didn’t fully satisfy me (but hey, I will never be satisfied).

I think some of the problem lies in a lack of preparation. I want to do something throughout the week (maybe just on Saturdays?) that helps me get ready for Sunday to be in the right frame of mind (like shining my shoes and washing my clothes, but you know, more meaningful). I’ve thought about maybe reading the lesson material before and thinking of thoughtful questions or comments, but am worried that would shift too much focus to me and that I may just be extra bored at Church as the lesson is read to me. I’m not sure what should happen, but I think I can definitely prepare better.

Many people commune with nature, which is something I never would have done before my time in England, but I think now could be quite pleasant. I don’t spend much time outside during the week, so doing something, maybe taking my bongos to some semi-isolated place and chillin’ and playing would be something unique that I could do.

Perhaps finding some service to do (a friend suggested adopting a refugee family and visiting them on Sundays). There’s potential there. This could encompass family history stuff potentially, which I also don’t do, but maybe would infuse my Sabbath with some delight.

I could probably use Sundays to keep in better touch with family. I stay in fairly regular contact with my immediate family and portions of my extended family. However, much of my dad’s side I don’t ever really talk to. It probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to try and stay in touch with them. Perhaps I could organize some sort of monthly newsletter like we do for my mom’s side of the family. Who knows?

I guess I am still trying to figure out what the purpose of the Sabbath is. It started for God to rest after the creation and admire the beauty of what had been created (at least from a symbolic stand-point) and then took on some meaning associated with Christ rising from the dead. I mean, I hear that it’s a day to dedicate to God or a day for family, but it’s also meant to be a rest from our labors and somehow in all of that, a delight.

I want to feel delighted and rested after my Sabbaths, but rarely is that the case. I’m still seeking and that’s part of the fun, I suppose, but I’d just really like to have found that delightful Sabbath.

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