Summer Sabbath

My Sabbatical was perhaps the most influential and necessary time in my life.

Photo by Annie Spratt

And moving out of the slow pace of Sabbatical living into this season of life is an adjustment. In fact, I almost feel like God gave me the pause to propel me into this season because I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard in my entire life. And to have gone from a high demand recruitment job to this work would have taken me alllllllllll the way out.


Don’t get me wrong - I’ve had jobs where I’ve had to work longer hours. I’ve had really tough jobs (i.e., teaching at high achieving charter schools, striving on high-intensity recruitment teams, and going nonstop pastry arts, etc.). But most of those careers had their ebbs and flows. This season feels consistent and round-the-clock.


And because I am pretty autonomous in both mamahood & business - there isn't someone dictating breaks. And boy, I could use someone telling me to enjoy my "summer break!" LOL.


And so, it's up to me to search for the negative space.

By negative space, I mean the "white space." In art, negative space is the area around and within the subject of an image. The negative space can be used to outline the picture, or it can be the subject itself. In journalism, we would study the negative space when we create layouts; we'd have to determine margins, spaces, photos - it's all essential to the reader experience. Think about the difference in white space between the NYTimes vs. USA Today. When you see the dense word-heavy text without much white space - most assume "scholarly" a more challenging read.

Currently, I feel like life is all the writing, all the pictures, and I am searching for that clear white space.


The empty space.

And what I'm quickly realizing is that there will be no negative space in my life without setting strict boundaries. And so, for the first time, I am strictly reserving the Sabbath.


SABBATH:


Now let’s start from the beginning, I have observed the Sabbath for many years. Sometimes it’s been a strict observation, and then it becomes lax- mostly because I burn out from working nonstop and fall into a natural flow where I have at least one day a week where I don’t do work and chores.


However, in this season in life, we work on Saturdays and the other five days of the week. So I have now determined that I will be strictly practicing a Sabbath. That Sabbath will come at the end of whenever I’m finished with everything on Saturday and last until Monday morning.


It will remind me that I can work, I can plant, and I can water, but I cannot grow.


There has to be room for God to work. He doesn’t need me in this work; however, I hope that He continues to use me. A Sabbath reminds me of that. It reminds me that I am not the one in control. Sure, I’m doing work. But there needs to be a space for me to rest. Of course, I need to relax mentally, emotionally, and spiritually but I also need to rest physically. I need to be a living example of balance for my boys.


Yes, I want them to see hard work. Yes, I want them to see me strive for anti-racist education and liberation, but I equally want them to see and feel peace.

Heck, Papa Pope wasn't the first black person to quote, "you have to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have!" It's a motto that has and will travel around black homes forever... but I don't want my boys to be in constant competition or live in a space of deficit. And I certainly don't want them to see rest as synonymous with laziness, or fear advocating for their health & rest needs.

But I can want everything for them and show them something completely different. And let's be honest, most of us need to "see it" to "be it."


And so, I will be observing the Sabbath & leaning into negative space. I want to exude peace vs. anxiety, and it has to be authentic. I need my kids (biological & school), peers, hubby, community, business partner, and family to feel at ease in my care and presence. That means intentionally slowing down, moving at my own pace. And so, although my Sabbatical ended months ago, I will enter observance of the Sabbath on Sunday.


Here's to seeking our negative space.

Peace be with you,

Shelby


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