2011 : The Year of Sabbath

Silence is not my thing.

If you know me in real life, you already know this.

I am a talker. I love conversation. I always have music on. (Hello Pandora. How did I live without you?) I thrive on chaos, and I actually function better in a noisy environment (such as a newsroom) than I do in a quiet one (such as my radio-free bedroom where my parents insisted I do my algebra homework, which completely explains that C).

So the fact that my blog has been silent for two weeks now is uncharacteristic, to say the least.

But in a twist I couldn’t have anticipated, it’s also a fitting start for 2011.

A few years ago, I saw a pattern emerge among writers I respect. Many of them prayed about a word or theme for each calendar year, a spiritual focal point that would direct their annual journey. I liked the idea. It would help the sanguine side of my brain stay focused and give the organized side of my brain an objective.

So last month, I started asking God if there was a subject He would like me to concentrate on this coming year.

I got an answer almost immediately, and I was simultaneously so shocked and excited about it, I kept it a secret for a good long while. (Another uncharacteristic action.)

My word for 2011 is Sabbath. The seed for this particular concept was planted by my MOPS Bible study last fall. Together, we studied "The Life You've Always Wanted"by John Ortberg, a book about the spiritual disciplines (and NOT the prosperity gospel as the horrible title might suggest).

Ironically, the concept of Sabbath is not a spiritual discipline. It’s a spiritual command. (Gulp.) But it’s heartbeat pulses through the disciplines – especially in practices like silence, slowing, having a well-ordered heart, even celebration. (Surprised by that last one? So was I.)

So this year, I embark on a journey of discovery. I suspect learning about the Sabbath – the why, what, when, where, who and how, to use journalism slang – will have trickle-down effects in every area of my life.

And so, I let my blog (and Twitter and Facebook account) lie mostly fallow these past two weeks. I refused to listen to the oily, whiny voice that tries to tell me I’m losing relevance by staying offline, as if my value is summed up by the number of comments I get. I wanted to walk away from the self-imposed burden that says my public voice matters more than my private one.

It stung to do it – like the pulling of a scab that has practically become a part of my body. But I can already feel the healing taking place.

In 2006, I read an interview with Eugene Peterson that has haunted me ever since. In it, Peterson is asked, “What spiritual practice has most shaped your walk with God?”

He answers:
Keeping a weekly Sabbath – a day my wife and I define as “praying and laying.” A day we don’t do anything that has to be done.

When we realized that the command and to keep a Sabbath is one of the most repeated in Scripture and yet the most ignored in our culture, we had to readjust radically the way we were living. No other decision has made as much difference to our lives across the board. It has impacted our marriage, children, church life, friendships, writing … the works.

Sabbath-keeping shifted our attention away from what we were doing for God to what God was doing for us. Our work became subsumed in His.
That’s what I want. That’s what I’m after.

May the Lord of the Sabbath be loud in the silence this coming year.

If you're interested in what words other bloggers have chosen for 2011:
SortaCrunchy : Give
Emerging Mummy : Enough
Holy Experience : Here
Laura Parker : NOT Cynical

Also, to clarify, I'm not going to be completely silent in 2011. (Sorry Corey.) It was just a healthy and necessary start for me as I contemplate what Sabbath might look like in my life.


  1. My blog lies fallow fairly often but not quite so intentionally... :)

    May the Lord bless you as you seek after Him in the quiet of His Sabbath rest this year!

  2. I have been researching the Sabbath for the past few weeks. The idea of resting with intention. Without guilt or pressure. Thanks for your words.

  3. Marva Dawn wrote a wonderful book about keeping the Sabbath. You might want to check it out if you haven't already.

  4. I think this is great. I can't wait for you to share some of what you and your family discover this year. I wrote about my word too (better).

  5. I love this, Kelly. I'm looking forward to hearing more of what you learn as you go.

    You've inspired me, reminded me...I needed that.

  6. LOVE this...it's such a HARD thing to do..because we have to stop DOING! i've read a book...3 times...it's that good. it's called "Breathe" by Keri Wyatt Kent - it talks a lot about the Sabbath...

  7. Such a great post. I felt a big EXHALE from every word of it.

  8. I LOVE your blog, even when it's silent. You inspire me more than you could ever know!

    I know you didn't ask for a list of references on Sabbath, but I just read an amazing book by Wayne Muller called Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives. Highly recommend it!

  9. I love Sabbath. I love that God, the Tender Creator, KNOWS our need for rest. For still. For Him.

    You are so right. Our culture forces against it. *I* reject it, and I know my pivotal need for it.

    My heart is with you on this, and I do hope you'll write more about it through the year - from the Word and from your own life, dear friend.


  10. Missed you! Looking forward to seeing what Sabbath does for you. It is intriguing. I have family members that do little things like have a family rest day on Sundays, but we haven't done anything like that yet.

    My word for this year is JOY.

  11. I didn't pick a word....but if forced to...I think this might be it. I'm looking forward to hearing about what you're learning and discovering as you focus on intentional Sabbath.
    (And I'm glad you're not gonna be resting from the ol' blog forever.)

  12. I'm tempted to not say anything, but since I can't be completely silent and leave a comment...I'll just say you'll like when we do Chapter 8 in Sacred Rhythms. We could even rearrange things and go over that chapter sooner if you like. You are the leader. :)

  13. The Sabbath is such a blessing! It is a way of acknowledging that God is Lord over all creation. Jesus kept the Sabbath while He was here on earth- and even kept the Sabbath in His death. The 4th Commandment tells us to remember 'the' Sabbath Day, not just 'a' sabbath day. I pray that God will lead all who are seeking to find His Sabbath. :)