I love my lists. Lists give me a sense of control. They help me figure out priorities. They shape my days with tasks. They help me cope with a chronic illness and with underemployment. Lists keep me from being with some very uncomfortable reality and keep me doing. Lists are not bad. I am definitely a fan of the list as a tool to motivate, organize, and achieve.
One of the challenges of Sabbath for this habitual lover of lists is that a day stretches ahead with no lists, no losing myself in tasks. It is deeply disconcerting, disorienting so I can reorient to all that life that I say is important, the life that is achievable only with open-ended time, the life that works best in a gracious spaciousness.
During Sabbath I am always brushing against the ghosts of habits related to productivity and time. These ghost experiences remind me of how much my life is shaped not by wonder, or reverence, or laughter, or friendship, or even grief, but by the emptiness of worthlessness, the need to be productive.
For much of my life, I have connected being without doing as the state of being ill, trapped in bed, unable to participate in life. Sabbath gives me the gift of a different way of appreciating and understanding being without doing, a vibrant participation in life, access to a well of gratitude in dwelling in present blessing. Sabbath is changing how I experience the days I’m bed-bound, though it is a slow change, as the people who love me know. Having time-shifted weekly into grateful being without doing, I can have moments, even hours of such time-shifting when before I would be bored and resentful – from irreverence to reverence.