Sabbath #1

noun. Old English, from Latin sabbatum, via Greek from Hebrew šabbāṯ, from šāḇaṯ ‘to rest.’

The church community I’m a part of is doing an experiment in the practice of Sabbath. It isn’t very complicated; the experiment is just to try it, and to see how it goes. It can be on any day and for any amount of time, and there aren’t any pre-defined rules about what you can or cannot do. Just rest intentionally. Sounds pretty basic, right?

It’s been 112 days since I quit my full-time job, and one of the most striking things about this time is how little I have rested. Two days after I quit, I jumped into a month-long intensive yoga teacher training program. Then, I started a granola business, signed up for all the volunteer things I could find, enrolled in an online Psych class for credit, did graphic design, traveled, researched grad schools, and meal-planned til I was blue. It’s surprising how the whole day can get totally lost in grocery shopping, dish washing, budgeting, laundry, emails, errands, library books, etc…and we don’t even have wifi at home! From the moment I’m up at (~7a), I’ve noticed that I’m constantly and compulsively doing stuff: packing Karl’s lunch, making granola, buying airplane tickets. I still believe all (or most) of those things need to get done, but my total inability to stop and take a break, much less plan some sort of small recreation for myself, has been a little alarming.

Most of my afternoons are occupied with nannying/babysitting jobs, but I have Fridays off. In light of this experiment our church is doing — as well as how difficult it’s been to just stop — I’m deciding to take Fridays as my ‘rest’ day. Well, today was my first Friday sabbath! Here’s what I did:

  • 6:45a – wake #1. feel determined to ‘sleep in’ because it’s sabbath. lie in bed.
  • 7:20a – wake #2. give up on sleeping in, decide just not in my DNA; get up, make tea, have breakfast, clear dishes, plan day.
  • 8a – force karl out of bed. pack his food, get dressed.
  • 8:30a – bike to coffee shop to use wifi, end up researching real estate. treat self to expensive almond latte.
  • 10a – meet friend & her sweet daughter at playground for hangout.
  • 11:15a – bike home, make granola for order i need to deliver on sunday and don’t have any other time to make.
  • 12:15p – heat leftovers for lunch.
  • 12:30p – decide i haven’t really done much resting.. read book in bed with big cup of tea.
  • 1:30p – walk to temescal pool, swim there for the first time.
  • 2:30p – take a long walk home.
  • 3:30p – write a letter, bike to post office, get bike brake repaired (for free!!), call mom.
  • 7p – dinner with friend in sf.
  • 10:30p – catch up with karl over white tea.
  • 11:30p – bed.

Notably, I (intentionally) didn’t do any grocery shopping or cooking, which is rare. I think having the day for rest encouraged me to do things I have wanted to do for a while but that never quite made it to the top of the ‘urgent+important’ list in my head, like going swimming and writing that letter. Swimming was extremely enjoyable; hopefully that’ll become a weekly thing (or more). At the end of the day, I did feel well-rested and generally grateful for life.

Saturday note: Woke up the next day with extremely painful sore throat and cough.. so not sure what to make of Sabbath on hindsight. All in all, still worth repeating :p

vancouver bc

Horseshoe Bay

Today was overcast, but in a way, the gloom felt appropriate and perhaps even beautiful.

I’m currently in my homeland, living in a big house tucked away in the north shore—the family home I’ve known since I was an infant. If people have summer homes, I suppose this was our winter home. As you may or may not know, Singaporean students study very industriously all throughout the summer, and so the word ‘summer’ has little or no meaning to us; we do, however, enjoy a six-week break at the end of the calendar year. And it was during this break that we’d find ourselves back here in West Vancouver BC, our annual reprieve from the relentless monsoon humidity and population density of southeast asia. We’d relish the winter freeze and the stoic mountains. Once we’d gotten over the jetlag, Christmasing in Vancouver was a little bit of magic.

Several things are different now. The last time I stayed in this house was over three years ago. The floors have been re-done; I’m a married woman; people have moved in and out of rooms with the ebb and flow of time, like they do in a game of Cluedo or musical chairs. My baby room—which had glow-in-the-dark fixtures lovingly stickered to the walls—is now a makeshift pantry. Some things we are learning for the first time: somehow we’ve managed to never notice the wild blackberry brambles in our own backyard, and indeed, all over the neighborhood. And then there are some things that are comfortingly constant, such as prices at safeway that will make you balk (avocados are on sale for $2.49?!), and those mountains.

Today we went to our favorite pho place and then took a drive around some scenic spots in the north shore, like horseshoe bay and caulfeild cove. Our family of four is reunited for the first time in nine months. I’m certainly in a different place, but I also feel as if I’m running on a different time.

All in all, I’m grateful (to put it mildly) that I get to be here in this season. I could be working and unable to travel. My travel authorization could have failed to arrive…indeed, that is a saga deserves its own post. But I’m here, with my family and with the mountains, about to make pajeon & bulgogi, and extremely proud to be canadian 😛