By Laura Kelly Fanucci

Writing this column almost made a liar out of me.

“I’ll write about leisure,” I had decided one morning at Mass, snuggled next to a rarely calm child, soaking in the Sunday quiet.

A perfect topic for July’s sultry weather and a gentle reminder of how God calls us to rest.

But then my work schedule picked up. So did my husband’s. House projects became emergencies; kids got sick; schedules got thrown off.

When I finally sat down to write, my fingers paused. Nothing came to mind.

Turns out I had zero leisure in my life – an inability to slow down, the frantic rush from one must-do to the next, the nagging guilt that stopping would be lazy.

We read in Genesis that God rested on the seventh day. But too often, we dismiss this notion for our own “crazy busy” lives as quaint.

But what if – like every one of God’s actions – resting on the Sabbath was a powerful and profound act of divine might and wisdom?

God rested. Why do we think we don’t need to do the same?

“We tend to overwork as a means of self-escape, as a way of trying to justify our existence,” wrote the German Catholic philosopher Josef Pieper in “Leisure: The Basis of Culture”.

Look around at our culture. It’s not hard to see that most of us are soul-worn.

The Third Commandment tells us to keep holy the Sabbath. The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that “the Sabbath brings everyday work to a halt and provides a respite. It is a day of protest against the servitude of work and the worship of money” (No. 2172).

So how can we slow down to reclaim rest?

Here are three ways to make space for Sabbath – simple ideas that are helping me get back on track.

♦ First, let technology rest.

I’ve been taking a “phone-free Sabbath”: tucking the phone in a drawer on Saturday night and resisting the temptation to scroll on Sunday. I’m embarrassed to admit that it’s harder than I expected.

But the deliberate practice of being offline and available to those who matter most – my spouse and kids – is delightful and refreshing. I pray longer without distraction. I started reading novels again. I sit and notice: children at play, birds feeding, growth in our gardens.

Now on Monday mornings, I regret picking the phone back up. The more Sabbath I have, the more I crave it.

♦ Second, let chores rest.

In a bustling household, there is always something to do, fold, fix, file, scrub, wash, sweep or mend.

But a family isn’t called to be a well-oiled machine. We are a home full of humans who need to rest, relax and enjoy each other’s company, too.

Try piling the dishes in the sink after Sunday lunch. Or quieting the washing machine from its constant churning. Leaving a chore or two to rest (even until Sunday night) can free up a little breathing room.

♦ Third, let yourself rest.

Yes, you, with 1,000 things to do and a racing mind that won’t quit. Go to bed early. Sleep in a little later. Take a guilt-free nap.

Let the God of rest – the God who rested – restore you, body and soul. CNS

Fanucci is the author of several books, including “Everyday Sacrament: The Messy Grace of Parenting,” and blogs at www.motheringspirit.com.

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