October 25, 2016
As a child growing up in Kansas, I was unaware of the concept of observing “Sabbath.” I knew some stores closed on Sundays and that made sense since (I thought) most people go to church on Sundays. After graduating college, I moved to Los Angeles and realized very quickly that most people did NOT go to church. Stores were open Sundays and the pace of life was unrelenting, especially for a graduate student working two jobs on top of going to school full time. At the churches where I worked, people sometimes spoke about Sunday being a “day of rest,” but as a working musician, that was never the case for me.
Soon after moving to the Seattle area, I became Minister of Music for a Seventh-day Adventist congregation, which I sometimes refer to as my “Saturday church” since they worship on Saturday morning. As I explored what was distinctive about Seventh-day Adventists, I learned that the concept of Sabbath is extremely important. Similar to the Jewish faith, Sabbath is observed from sundown Friday evening to sundown Saturday evening. During this time, the focus is on participating in worship, growing one’s faith and spending time with family. One is not supposed to work at household tasks such as cooking and cleaning, nor should one perform any tasks for one’s job.
I was very enamored of the concept of Sabbath and intentionally reserving a weekly space for rest and rejuvenation. And this would be a tidy little article indeed if I could share that I soon learned to create Sabbath time for myself and that my life has been enriched because of it. But the truth is very different. I had a six-year old child when I started that job, worked not one, but two half-time church jobs, and in addition taught at the University of Washington. As appealing as Sabbath time might be, I could not find a way to create even an hour, much less a twenty-four hour space.
Fast forward twenty years. My work world has not slowed down, and in fact has accelerated in intensity with the rise of email, texting and social media.
While I have not yet been able to set aside a full day each week, I have learned to be more intentional about reserving at least some time to rest, read or enjoy time with friends and family. Through this process, I have learned an important lesson: that all items on my urgent “to do” list are not actually essential. In fact, not accomplishing all those tasks can allow the Spirit to move in and handle things in a much better way than my original plan. What an amazing gift! May you find ways to make space for yourself, and therefore also for the Spirit. Blessings! –Wanda Griffiths, Transitional Director of Music & Organist