Funny I should attempt to renege an offer to review a book entitled Rest after deciding that I needed, well, more rest. Lucky for me, the book had already been shipped when I asked if I could pass on this review. As soon as I cracked the book open, I realized that God, in his infinite wisdom, knew I needed to read this one.
The full title of Kerri Wyatt Kent’s book is Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity, and it’s not actually about slipping into REM mode. Instead, Kent invites readers to rest in Him as well as to rediscover the ancient practice of Sabbath and to move toward what she calls “Sabbath Simplicity” or a sanely, God-focused life.
Sheesh. Based on the crazy pace of my life lately, I think I need tips on how to be more sane and faith-centric even more than I need more shut-eye.
Based on what Jesus taught about Sabbath and how he practiced it, Kent explores six aspects of Sabbath as Christian spiritual practice: resting, reconnecting, revising, pausing, playing, and praying. Kent makes a strong argument that bringing these practices to life is the antidote to our restlessness, isolation, and our hurried lives, workaholism and self-absorption.
Personally, I’ve been working really hard at making Sundays a family day of rest and fun, and Kent’s book has only made me want to try harder. We go to Mass as a family (or lately I go with my girls and brother because my husband has had to work most weekends), and then we spend time together. I stay away from the computer and even resist the urge to clean or to play catch-up in other areas of my life. This isn’t always easy because my husband is so rarely around. Sometimes the temptation is to cram chores into this day when he can help out with the kids. But I’m trying to look at it in a different light. If my husband and the girls’ father is around, isn’t that a good excuse to not pursue things I can do at other times and to instead focus on family time when we can be all together?
And even when my husband is MIA like he was this past weekend, I’ve found that I crave and need a day of rest, a day to just play with my girls. So this past Sunday we went to Mass with my brother and then ate lunch together. In the afternoon the girls and I went to story time at an independent bookstore in our downtown square. We thought about venturing outdoors, but the weather was oppressively hot, so we watched a movie together instead. Later we chowed down on pork fajitas for dinner.
When I saw my husband before he had to be back at work (poor guy missed out on our fun because he’s been working 12-hour night shifts for the past week and has to sleep during the day), I told him I can’t believe I ever have time to do anything other than focus on caring for our girls. I didn’t do anything “extra” on Sunday other than be a mother to my children; yet, the day flew by. However, as busy as I seemed schlepping the kids to Mass and to story time, I didn’t feel frazzled. Not one bit. I wasn’t rushed and I didn’t feel like I was failing a to-do list (or myself) by not being productive. And, in fact, I’d been very productive, although I didn’t have much to show for it. What I produced was fun for the kids and me as well as some fond memories.
Wyatt writes that the Sabbath is s day to “put aside our cares and our work so we can just love God – that’s the heart of resting in God, the key to recovering our lives.”
Recovering our lives. I think she’s really on to something there. That’s why we’re here, right? To live. And what makes our lives more meaningful? Our faith and our family. Oh, sure we pursue other things to give us meaning like material goods or professional accolades. And I’m not suggesting there’s anything wrong with this to a certain point. Nor am I suggesting we stop doing anything productive. My house still has to be cleaned. There are bills to be paid. Yet, it’s so easy for a Type Aer like myself to get so caught up in the doing that I forget that my being as well as the human beings in my life are far more important than what I do.
A good way to persistently remind myself of this (and I, unfortunately, need a lot of reminders) is to listen to God’s command and observe the Sabbath. Wyatt’s easy-to-read book has helped show me how.
Although Wyatt encourages us to embrace Sundays as a day to reconnect with our faith and family and embracing the Sabbath as a day of rest is certainly at the heart of the book, we would all benefit from marbling in the spiritual practices she explores into our everyday life throughout the week. So it’s my goal to take what I learn during this holy day of rest and to apply it to remainder of my week. I won’t be able to bask in my family’s presence or kneel peacefully at Jesus’ feet all weeklong, but with a conscious effort on my part I will be able to live a more God-centered life and to take up a new yoke – one that is easier and lighter and steers me in a less hurried pace, a yoke that is His alone.
Rest: Living in Sabbath Simplicity is available on Amazon. A group study guide is included at the end of the book, making it an excellent choice for small faith groups.
To read more reviews, visit the Rest Blog Tour Spot.