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Emails to my Therapist

New: Launching My Sabbath Rest Experiment

Nicholas, For decades, I’ve been telling myself I really ought to declare one day a week free of all work–writing, critiquing, housework, taxes, etc. A Sabbath rest. I haven’t been able to get myself to do it until now. What has persuaded me is the lovely Shabbat dinner I had this past Friday with my friends Meira and Sam.

Shabbat is the Jewish day of worship and rest, beginning at sundown Friday, lasting until darkness falls on Saturday night. The dinner I took part in, my first Shabbat dinner ever,  was a wonderfully purposeful celebration, beginning the holy day of rest.

Meira, my friend since first grade, is a composer, with much of her work on Jewish themes with universal meaning. She and Sam are highly observant of the Shabbat rituals. The candles were lit before sundown. We washed our hands in a prescribed manner. The bread and the wine were blessed. We sang in Hebrew (I did the best I could) from little blue books of prayers and liturgy, the Siddur, I think they’re called.

Mindful and Delightful

The striped bass and asparagus and sweet potatoes and conversation that followed then seemed important, the meal more joyous and meaningful than it might have been had we simply flopped down in our chairs and gone to eating.

The full observance of Shabbat includes a lot more than this meal. Until the sun goes down the next day, Meira doesn’t make phone calls or turn on the stove or do anything that could be construed as work. She doesn’t write her music, which the principal cellist with Jerusalem Symphony describes as coming from “a place which is beyond music. It is like a prayer … from deep within the soul….”

Lest I Get Carried Away

Let me be clear: I am not going that far with my own new Sabbath observance. I’m taking it slowly and trying out my own simple version.

The concept of a sabbath certainly isn’t new to me. As a child, raised Methodist, I was never allowed to do homework on Sundays. I never questioned this or thought it unusual in any way. Sunday, after all, was Sunday.

No-Work Sundays

This past Sunday was my first no-work Sunday as an adult in my new personal style of Sabbath. What that meant for me was no writing, no critiquing of clients’ manuscripts, no housework or dealing with family finances, etc. What I did mainly was take a walk on Wrightsville Beach, hang out with my mom and my brother Franc, drive home, hang out with my husband, and read.

Sabbath rest. I really liked it.



I have the feeling that I am, in slow-motion, unwrapping a large gift. I’m only beginning to see the edge of it.

A Month of Sundays

Still, I’m not going to commit to more than I’m sure about (I take my deals with myself extremely, perhaps a bit pathologically, seriously.) So I’m going to do this for three more Sundays, stretching this experiment out a month. My Sabbath will begin when I wake on Sunday morning and end when I go to bed.

I’ll start the day with an awareness of it being a special soulful day, putting aside my worldly ambitions and routine obligations. I’ll read my usual daily devotional from my Science of Mind magazine and meditate. And then I’ll read, rest, and do things that are fun.

Yabba Dabba Doo! as Fred Flintstone used to say when he was happy.

I think I’m pretty likely to want to continue this.

And Not-So-Spiritually

Of course, being me, I have some worldly expectations for the results. I expect to be more efficient in the other six days, a better writer, a clearer thinker, a quicker problem-solver.

Wouldn’t surprise me if some or all of that were to happen. But those things, for a change, are not my focus.

Dancing on the Beach

Years ago, Meira composed a piece for string orchestra that she titled Shabbat With King David.  She writes:

The melody came to me one Friday night (the beginning of the Jewish Sabbath) in June when I found myself dancing and singing in the moonlight along the ocean shore, with the joyous spirit of King David…his ecstatic dancing when bringing the ark of the covenant to Jerusalem.

shabbat sabbath

I’m looking forward to my own simple version.

Want to Talk About It?

If you happen to be near Chapel Hill, I recommend an event taking place tonight (Feb. 20).  Two authors will lead a discussion on Sabbath at 7 p.m. at Flyleaf Books: “Can Rest Revolutionize Our Lives.” Kate Rademacher is author of a memoir about her recent conversion to Christianity, Following the Red BirdDana Trent, a graduate of Duke Divinity School, wrote  For Sabbath’s Sake.

Hoping to get everything done by Sunday,









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  • Ann Ficklen Little
    February 20, 2018 at 11:06 pm Reply

    Great idea – I will have to cook -Sid likes real meals at nite!

    • Peggy Payne
      February 20, 2018 at 11:35 pm Reply

      Reheating can work, Ann. Good to see both y’all at the class party!

  • February 20, 2018 at 11:12 pm Reply

    Peggy, I heartily endorse this–have been doing it for decades–and I find it beneficial.
    Steve J.

    • Peggy Payne
      February 20, 2018 at 11:33 pm Reply

      Thanks for the endorsement and encouragement, Steve. I’m not surprised that you do this and find it good.

  • Beverly Tetterton
    February 21, 2018 at 10:01 pm Reply

    Shabbat Shalom!

    • Peggy Payne
      February 21, 2018 at 10:04 pm Reply

      Thank you and Shabbat Shalom to you, Beverly!

  • Randee Bieler
    February 22, 2018 at 11:17 pm Reply

    ha! I love this. I can’t imgine trying it, but what a wonderful notion!

    • Peggy Payne
      February 22, 2018 at 11:33 pm Reply

      Randee, you could paint watercolors all day! You seem like a natural for this sort of thing and I wouldn’t have been surprised if you told me that you’d been doing this for years. It seems to fit with your blog philosophy at Gravy Years.

  • […] Nicholas, I’ve now observed a Sabbath day twice  since my recent resolve, which was inspired by taking part in a  Jewish Shabbot dinner. I’m so happy and surprised […]

  • April 28, 2018 at 5:25 pm Reply

    […] Nicholas, It has been seven weeks now since I began my Sabbath day observance experiment, Sundays of rest, reflection, fun, and no work. Week Three was […]

  • July 5, 2018 at 12:35 pm Reply

    […] My Sabbath experiment is only a few months old and the third Sunday was wonderful. With no work of any sort, the day felt timeless and infinite. That hasn’t happened again. Instead, Sunday has loomed as a day I don’t allow myself to do things I want to do. And Saturday feels like a deadline for getting things done. […]

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