to help you discover the God you already know

Keeping Sabbath

I met up with my friend Mary Dawson this week at Stixwould. She’s a retired Anglican priest with a spirituality earthed in the everyday, and she was telling me about the way she keeps Sabbath. I found it very interesting, and with her permission I share below two pieces from her blog on the subject. If you’d like to read more of Mary’s wonderings you can find them at


Fridays are very busy in my house as Friday is the day I get ready for Saturday!

Saturday is, for me, the Sabbath. Now I am not Jewish but Sabbath is one of those aspects of Judaism which fascinates me. At the beginning of this year I decided to make Saturday very special, not trying to copy the Jewish Sabbath but making a day to refresh my soul. For me it is a day of withdrawal which I spend alone. Sometimes that just isn’t possible but most weeks I can manage it. And it is very important that my home helps me to feel calm.

So on Fridays I do most of my housework. I am not very good at house work. In fact, let’s be totally honest, I am rubbish at housework. Every couple of months I pay someone else to clean the house through for me and I consider it to be money very well spent. But each week I dash through with a duster and the vacuum cleaner, I replace the flowers and it’s the one day of the week when the bed is sure to be made properly.

I also make sure that I have done the preparation for taking services on Sunday. My quietness tomorrow is not to be spent thinking about what I will say on Sunday.

I plan my meals so that everything on Saturday is really easy. However, Friday evening is often a special meal to start my special day. After my evening meal I will load the bread-maker so that on Saturday I wake to the wonderful smell of baking bread.

And Saturday

Today has been Saturday and has been my Sabbath.

It seems odd really that I value a quiet day so much. I value it more now than ever I did when I was working. It is the day I renew my spirit and listen to God. There is no agenda although there are a few rituals.

The house has to be calm ready for Sabbath. It starts with a special meal. Friday night is not the time for a scrabble in the bottom of the fridge. It’s the time for something carefully chosen which may take more effort than my meals on other days. Yesterday it was a lovely homemade paella. The evening was spent quietly – no TV, just an audiobook and my knitting.

After saying Compline and loading the bread-maker it’s off to bed, and I always turn the bed down early in the evening and leave fresh nightclothes to be enjoyed with my fresh sheets. Often I put flowers in my bedroom too.

Saturday I always wake with a smile on my face. I know it’s going to be a wonderful day. The house smells of fresh bread and the crust is for breakfast. There is no question of a to-do list, I just do things which delight my soul.

My Sabbath has now ended and I still have my smile. I have no family to delight me, my health is not brilliant but there is much to delight in. God is indeed good.

1 Comment

  1. Jas

    When I heard Henry mention this ritual I said I would look at the blog and reply if I felt inspired. Having read it I want to say that my life also includes a sort of sabbath although I’ve never thought of it like that.

    My husband and I have 5 children, most grown up, just 1 at home, and 2 grandchildren, and we both do work outside of the home too, so even without full time paid work we are kept busy. We almost always have Friday’s “off”. My husband makes sure everything is done at home by Thursday and we plan what we are going to do with our free day. We sometimes just stay at home and don’t answer phones or emails!

    We decided to do this to allow us some time together to refocus on each other, and it is such an important part of our lives together now, that after 33 years together we still look forward to our special day. It isn’t always easy to say ‘no’ to other demands on our time, but it is worth all the effort.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.