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Late Autumn 2019 | Reflections on the Practice of Sabbath

The Sabbath Box

In last week’s sermon we talked about two Sanskrit words: samyoga (joining with) and viyoga (separating from). This week, as we turn our attention toward the practice of Sabbath, I think these words are useful.

If we understand Sabbath as a spiritual practice, then it’s not simply about rest. It’s about nourishment and deep connection. Sabbath is a time to set aside the demands of daily life. It’s a time to direct our attention inward, toward the heart of Mystery. It’s a radical act of self-care that helps us remember who we truly are.

In our last exploration of Sabbath we explored the difference between resting and numbing. This difference is important because while habits of numbing may appear restful, in reality they leave our senses dull and our vibrancy weakened. The intention of Sabbath is the opposite!! We want to bring our senses alive and to replenish our vibrancy!

In our over busy world, where many of us are connected to work 24/7, the concepts of samyoga and viyoga can be helpful.

Let’s define rest as any activity that leads toward healing, replenishment, senses that are more alive, and an energy tank pulsing with vibrancy. This is a tall order! But doesn’t it sound nice?

The big secret is that this kind of rest comes from simple things… Simple food (a warm bowl of veggie soup), simple acts (reading a good book, sitting in nature), simple moments of connection (laughing with a friend).

The practice I’d like to introduce you to this week comes from Wayne Muller (I recommend all his books!) and it’s called the “Sabbath Box.”

Sabbath is intended to be a regular and intentional practice, something we do every week. Maybe you can set aside an hour on Friday morning, or the afternoon on Tuesday, or the entire day on Saturday. It’s probably going to be different every week. That’s ok. The important thing is that you don’t let the week pass without it. Every Sunday evening look ahead at your schedule and block out your time of Sabbath. Put it in your calendar and protect it.

And when it comes time to enter into the practice of Sabbath decide what you want to separate from (viyoga) and what you want to connect with (samyoga).

Put everything you’re separating from in the Sabbath Box. This can be an actual object (like your phone or to-do list) or something symbolic (like writing down a worry or concern you’d like to release for the time being).

Sabbath is a time to accept that things will never be finished. We can’t hold the weight of everything all the time. Sometimes we have to set things down and rest.

The Sabbath Box allows us to ritualize the handing over of our burdens. We place important things in the box. We know they’re being held and that we can return to them. But for now, we can light a candle and enjoy something simple with a deeper intention.

When it’s time to return to the activity of daily life we can approach the items in the Sabbath Box with new awareness and reassess our relationship to them.

Practiced on a weekly basis, the Sabbath Box opens up space for simple activity done with intention. And it builds the habit of right relationship with work and rest.

Reflection Questions

Parker Palmer wrote: “Self-care is never a selfish act–it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give the care it requires, we do it not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives we touch.”

Are you comfortable with taking time for self-care?

The Sabbath Box

  • When will you take Sabbath this week?
  • What will you use as a Sabbath Box?
  • What will you place in the Sabbath Box? What do you want to separate from (viyoga)? What do you need to release for awhile?
  • What activities will you experience during your Sabbath? Reading, napping, making love, sharing a meal with a friend, expressing your creativity, enjoying nature… What do you want to connect with (samyoga)?
  • When it’s time to return to the tasks of daily life and you once again take up the objects in the Sabbath Box, how will you do so with intention?
  • When will you take Sabbath next week?

Community Sharing

We all benefit from the wisdom of spiritual community. And community means more than one voice, so please add yours to the conversation.


We all benefit from the wisdom of spiritual community. And community means more than one voice, so please add yours to the conversation. What did this week’s sermon and reflection questions spark in you?

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