Like many of us today, MaryAnn McKibben Dana found herself overwhelmed by her suburban existence. Between work, errands, shopping, carpool, homework, yard work, bills, and the never-ending email inbox, she found that her family really did not have that much time to just be. And so they made what many today would deem a radical decision.
Her family made a one year commitment to observe the Sabbath. An important part of the Jewish and Adventist faiths, Sabbath-keeping has for many fallen by the wayside. Whereas Sundays used to be a universally accepted "day-off," our busy lives have made it just another day of the week. But what about God's commandment to keep the Sabbath holy? It seems easy, but is it really?
In Sabbath in the Suburbs: A Family's Experiment with Holy Time, MaryAnn McKibben Dana chronicles the year that her family committed to set aside one day each week for holy rest. At first it was difficult, and it may not have looked like what some people feel the Sabbath should be, but what developed over the year was a period of time that her family was able to make time for rest, family, and God.
I found this to be a very interesting book. I've been guilty of rushing home from church on Sundays to get the kids to their activities. With all that goes on during the week, it just feels like there is never any time. But as this book reminded me, the time is there, we just have to make it a priority.
I'm starting to get a little weary of books that are one year experiments and was a little hesitant at the start of it. But what made this one unique was that it wasn't a strict "I will do x in this manner for one year," it was about making a lifestyle change over time and using the time period to discover how best to fit the Sabbath into your life.
In the beginning of the book there is quite a bit of information about what the Sabbath means and looks like for Jewish people as well as for Christians. For those who are not familiar with the practice, this book gives you a great overview and is very easy to understand. The author does really well at putting it all into perspective for us today.
I also liked the honesty of this book. It's not just an easy practice to pick up and it takes a lot of work and trials before one can really come to understand the meaning of it all. There is never any feeling in the book of being better than another person or judgements of others. It's about finding what is right for you and along the way discovering a new aspect of your relationship with God.
That being said, I don't necessarily think there was enough material there for a book. As this is also a blog, I believe that format is more suited. Sometimes the book felt a bit repetitive or a little drawn out. But with the addition of various readings on the subject and other points of view, it makes for a well-rounded and thought-provoking read.