Saturday, March 7, 2020

Blessing The Weekend

Back in December I took a course, Hibernate, with the lovely Heather Bruggeman of North Ridge Farm. If you're not familiar with Heather's blog then I invite you to skip this post for now, pour yourself a cup of something warm and settle in for awhile and peruse her offerings. I've learned so much from Heather over the years, and I hope to be just like her when I grow up!  This is the third class I've taken, and I always learn so much in the time spent gleaning from her wisdom and expertise. I can't praise her classes enough! They are all just so good and I highly recommend taking one, or two!

In the last session of Hibernate, Heather spoke about Blessing The Weekend, a ritual that came about during the years when she was homeschooling her daughter.. Like many homeschooling families, Friday's were a half day, and once they finished with their lessons, they would spend a few hours tidying the home, maybe making up a quick pan of brownies, or.a pot of soup and a few other quick, easy meals. The objective here being to cut down on time spent in the kitchen. She emphasized that she likes to cook, but she also like not having too, as well, and that by  the taking the time to do a little prepping on Friday afternoons, you can easily have one or two meals and snacks ready to carry you through until Monday. Fast food, but at significantly less cost and better for you!

Another thing she did are what I like to refer to as "cozy chores". Changing the sheets on the bed, dusting off furniture, making up a lovely bouquet of flowers for the table. Anything that freshens the space and make things warm and inviting, "cozying up", as I like to say. None of this takes very long at all, especially if you enlist help. But even it its just you, typically within an hour or two you've set the stage o spend intentional time with your family and just be together.

Reading Heather's words reminded me of the Jewish practice of Shabbat, or what I refer to as sabbath. In Jewish homes Shabbat (pronounced SHAH-BAHT or some communities, SHAH-BIS, is a weekly twenty five hour observance that begins just before sundown each Friday and through the completion of nightfall on Saturday. It is a day of physical and spiritual delights highlighting key concept of the Jewish faith. Preparations begin as early as mid-week. As no work is to be done during this time, meals must be prepared ahead of time (similar to what Heather shared), and the observance begins with the a candle lighting ceremony which I think is just lovely and have long intended to incorporate into my own sabbath observance. Jewish tradition mandates three specific shabbat meals, and in addition to special foods, the family spends time singing, studying and celebrating together.
Now I know at this point some of you may be thinking, "Well, this all sounds lovely, but our kids are involved in soccer on the weekend, there's yard work to do, and preparations to be made for church on Sunday.", and let me assure you, I hear you loud and clear! In her book Rhythms of Rest, Shelly Miller shared this thought; "The sabbath isn't about resting perfectly, it's about resting in the one who is perfect." The important thing is not how much time you are able to devote to rest and being together, but that you are intentional about setting aside some time every weekend, to make space to be together. If you still don't see how that might be possible, let me offer a few suggestions.
Begin planning  mid-week for the upcoming weekend. Think through what activities you already have scheduled and then determine how much time you have to devote to rest and relaxation. Mark that time slot off in your calendar so that as you receive invitations you'll already have it reserved. And don't be discouraged if at first you find you can only squeeze in a couple of hours. It also might even take a little encouragement to get other members of the family on board with the idea, but once you begin my guess is you'll enjoy it so much, everyone will want more and before you know you'll be willing to sacrifice more to have this time together.

When doing your weekly meal planning, take this time into consideration. If you don't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen, then take a cue from Heather an make up a bit pot of soup or stew that can be enjoyed all weekend. If your budget affords, plan a special meal out, or if the weather is nice, go on a picnic. Maybe you want to bake something together, so take time to do a quick inventory and make sure you have all of the ingredients. Nothing spoils time together like someone having to rush off to the store for eggs or sugar.

Think of other things that will encourage spending time together. Go through the board games in your closet and set out a few favorites. Maybe a deck of cards? Plan a trip to the library together to pick up a few books or maybe a dvd the whole family can watch. But aside from television and maybe a movie, I would recommend you try to limit screen time.This is a time for intentionally being together. You could go on a hike, visit a museum, work on a puzzle. The possibilities are endless, so be creative.

And finally, set the stage. It's hard to be together and not be distracted if the family room is overrun with toys, there's a stack of dirty dishes in the kitchen, the floors need sweeping, you get the picture. It doesn't have to be perfect, but if you take the time to tidy things up it makes for a much more inviting and relaxing atmosphere. I like to change the sheets on our bed on Fridays so that after a day of fun everyone has a clean, comfy bed to crawl in to. Another element that is a must in our home is candlelight. And though I don't follow the the ceremony associated with Shabbat.(though I'd like to), it's such an important piece that it's really become the cue. Any time my family comes in to finds candles lit, twinkle lights glowing, and soft music playing (usually some light jazz), I can almost watch the stress from the day wash from their faces, and they are instantly engaged and ready. Setting aside time for rest and for intentionally being together is just the anecdote you and your family need for recovering from the madness and business of the world.

To help you brainstorm through your own sabbath weekend, or weekend hours, with your family, I've created a little printable, of course, **wink**. And again, don't be discouraged if at first you can't find much time to carve out, or if it takes you a few tries before you find your rhythm and figure to what works best. I've allowed space for you to muddle through those thoughts until it becomes a natural and regular part of your routine.  Just click on the link below to download your free copy!

In closing I want to leave you with this lovely passage from one of my favorite children's books, All of a Kind Family.

"At home, the kitchen was warm with the smell of fresh baked white bread. The room sparkled with cleanliness. The table, which wore only an oilcloth covering all through the week, now had a snowy white tablecloth. On it stood the brass candlesticks, gleaming brightly from the polishing that Ella and Sarah had given them the ay before. They were just in time to see Mama saying the prayer over the candles.

The children stood around the table watching her. A lovely feeling of peace and contentment seemed to flow out from Mama to them. First she put a napkin on her head, then placing four white candles in the brass candlesticks, she lit them. She extended her arms to form a circle. One the lighted candles the encircling gesture was repeated. After that Mama covered her eyes with her hands softly murmuring a prayer in Hebrew.

This was Sabbath ushered in."

- Sydney Taylor

To learn more about Shabbat prayers, visit this page.

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