I had the opportunity to be interviewed on an Australian radio program this week about my book Rest. It will air in a few weeks, I’ll post the link then.

                One question the interviewer asked me was, “What do you do on Sabbath? Is it a day to do nothing? Or a day of worship?”

                So what do you do on Sabbath—a day dedicated to God, and to rest? I told him it was a day of absolute freedom from “have-to.” The Bible says it is not just a day to chill out and do your own thing, and yet it is a gift from God. But as I went through my Sabbath day yesterday, I tried to notice—what is it that I do, on this day of rest? The phrase that kept coming to me was the ministry of availability. I showed up—at church, at a neighbor’s home, for my kids—and God met me in it. I was not busy going anywhere else, so I could be fully present with the people God put in my path.

So yesterday, I went to church. Later, I brought some of Aaron’s outgrown clothes over to a friend for her nephew, and had time to just sit and chat for a while with her. I stopped by at my neighbors’, Jeff and Lisa, to drop off a book. And to ask how their daughter Katie is doing—she was recently diagnosed with cancer (see previoius post). I had time to visit for a few minutes, to try to listen. There was no place I had to rush off too.

I had lunch with my son at the kitchen table. He went off for a bike ride with his friends, to play basketball with the kids down the street. I puttered in my garden, in a loosely-held solitude, enjoying the sun, the flowers, the feel of the earth in my hands. My neighbor Jeff was mowing his lawn, and he stopped and we chatted for a few minutes. My daughter texted to ask for a ride home from youth group. I was available to pick her and her friends up. I didn’t have anywhere else I needed to be.

I did a little weeding, but set no goals. When my neighbors Colleen and Tony came out on their front porch, the dog and I walked over to sit and chat for a while.

I made dinner—pork tenderloin, peas and risotto. Risotto requires adding broth and stirring, slowly and repeatedly, for about 20 minutes. It’s a very Zen sort of cooking experience. You have to stay present.  Preparing it feels very loving to me–and nearly impossible on weeknights full of carpooling and work. But on Sabbath, such attentiveness is not only possible, but enjoyable. We gathered as a family around a simple meal, and talked about life, about the coming week, about what we’d learned at church.

                After dinner we put a fire in the fireplace, and just hung out together. The kids finished their homework.

                Maybe a day dedicated to God is a day that moves slowly enough that you have time to listen, time to be available.  Maybe connecting with God on this day doesn’t require effort as much as it requires simply showing up, and seeing Him in the faces of the people around you.