I recently sent an S.O.S to a friend asking how she keeps her sanity together while the house is in disarray. We are both so alike — though, I consider her a mentor — so I knew it was my wisest decision to reach out to the wisest person I know. She took me through something she does to ease her mind when her environment looks chaotic: make sure the space in which you feel at peace is tidied. For me, that’s the living room. When the door is closed to Declan’s room, and I can sit down on the couch with a glass of wine, the last things I want to look at are his toys scattered around.
She also told me something she took up with her family — a sabbath day. It was something she picked up from a book titled “24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week” by Tiffany Shalain, a Jewish woman who has configured her own Shabbat with her family for the past decade. Like all things interesting that I want to perfect: I bought the book immediately … on Audible. My first audible book, ever. But, again, time is precious and sacred these days, and I’m already reading something during my lunch break.
I’ve spent the last week with Tiffany explaining the meaning of what the Shabbat has meant to her personally, how it has affected her family in positive ways, the history of the Sabbath/Shabbat, and the importance of it. Something powerful she has taken me through has been the comparison of cigarettes to our consumption of all-things-screens. From phones, television, computers — we are being robbed, re-wired, and no longer know how to separate ourselves from a world that is constant and loud. Like the introduction of the cigarette, it was everywhere and normalized … until the effects begin to show. Like animals, we are trained to scroll, tap, reply, post.
And I feel I am the worst at this.
Sure, becoming a mom has made me hyperaware of what I am paying attention to at all times. When I am on the floor with my son, rarely do I have a phone nearby. I have zero time to pay attention to it because I’m being handed a stuffed chicken or tasked with dancing along to the beat of a musical instrument. For that, I am grateful. However, I do find that, like any addict, I am reaching for my phone as soon as I have a moment. I catch up on “the day” through social media.
How did this become so much a part of who I am?
Tiffany’s version of the Shabbat is intense. We are talking printed Mapquest directions, landline only, 1998, “May I borrow your cellphone to make a call?” level. But that’s what it takes these days to say no to disruption, to be unavailable except to the present moment. So, I ask myself, how far am I willing to take this? Her suggestion is to begin slowly. See what ways work for me, what I can tweak, and go from there.
Here is what I do know: I don’t like the time I waste in front of a screen. The black hole of clicking from here to there and suddenly I’m trying to figure out what Kacey Musgraves used to look like before fame … is daunting. This Advent season, I want to be so much more willing to pay attention, rest, and be open to the whisper of the Spirit.
Tiffany, split my Red sea of blue light and guide me like Moses did.