Sabbath Simplicity

Minimalism symposium: Stories of more and less.

Does our frantic movement through places mean that we will miss the “thisness” of things and locations that only becomes available when we move into places and abide with creatures? Sabbath rest speaks specifically to this predicament because it calls us to say “No!” to the distraction and fragmentation. It calls us to streamline and simplify our living to the kinds of habits and activities that open us to the love of God moving in the places of our life.

 

Sabbath rest is not about taking a break. Properly understood, it is about putting an end to the restlessness that keeps our living distracted, fragmented, and perpetually dissatisfied. This is why it is so important to correct those forms of life that get in the way of our participation in God’s own Sabbath rest and delight in the world.

In The Metropolis and Mental Life, published in 1903, the German sociologist and philosopher Georg Simmel argued that practical features of modern urban life—things like housing, transportation, shopping, and the shift to wage labour in an office or factory—were transforming human beings in fundamental ways. No longer confined to the slower and familiar rhythms of village and rural life, people found themselves confronted by the speed, unpredictability, variety, and impersonality of so many encounters and transactions. The whirl of activity and movement, and the anonymity of people and places, had the effect of creating “the blasé outlook,” a condition in which people find it difficult to be personally or emotionally invested in others. Sensing their lives to be fragmented and scattered, or simply overwhelmed by the constant flow of stimuli, people retreated into themselves and held others at arm’s length. 

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