What a lovely, slow Saturday. One weekend in early July…

Here in Adelaide the sun was shining after a very cold and overcast week. I’d enjoyed a sleep in (which is a little unusual for me due to our family routines), a quiet morning reading while children played happily, then a walk through our neighbourhood to our local shopping centre. With coffee and bakery lunch in hand, we walked back to a playground and enjoyed lunch at the park.

All of this was done at the pace of our 5 year old who, like many children, gets distracted by people and random objects along the way. Today she found a stick that looked like a numeral 1. She balanced slowly along a retaining wall next to the footpath. We were surprised by a growling big dog and at another fence by a little barking dog. She wanted to stop and pick ‘sour sob’ flowers. She missed the potato I saw in the gutter! And on this day, it did not matter how long any of this took. We had no other plans.

As we walked I reflected about how life has slowed down over these past few months. Restrictions have meant the closure of lots of things and the limitations around catching up with people. As things reopen in South Australia and groups can start to regather I wonder how we choose what to do and who to reconnect with. I wonder how we protect these days of wandering at our own pace, enjoying the sunshine and the good things around us.

A couple of weeks have passed since that delightfully slow Saturday…

In late July, I was having a conversation with another parent about the first week back of term and how her family went. She commented about how difficult it was to get back into the routines and daily rhythms of a busy family, the ways they had been living pre-lockdown with so many activities for different children, social events for each family member and just generally enjoying a very full schedule. Having been in lockdown and unable to do most things for 3-4 months it is now strange trying to get back into the swing of busier things.

We had a conversation about simple living and how it isn’t just about the amount of stuff you have in your home but also about how you shape your calendar. We discussed things like:

  • Boundaries – what is the one extra-curricula thing for this term, either for each child or for the family to be involved with?
  • Where do we (every person in the home, adults and children) get energy from – being with people, being at home, engaging in certain activities?
  • Are we excited to get ready and go to something? Do we look forward to it or are we dragging ourselves and our children and struggling to get out the door? If we have the option not to go, do we take it?
  • What is best for our family? What does saying ‘no’ allow for?

For my family I can measure our energy and the need to replenish ourselves by requests for pyjama days, shed days and just feeling the need to get the house organised.

For example, recently, we had another lovely Saturday. A slow day at home. It helped that it was a glorious, sunny, Adelaide Winter’s day. The previous weekend had been quite full and it had been a busy working week so I appreciated staying home and getting the house organised by completing a few chores. My husband appreciated a day in the shed, working on his projects. Our 5 year old wanted to spend the day in her pyjamas. That is the clearest indicator to me that she’s saying, “I need a day at home.” And that we as a family need to slow down and take a breath.

So, we opened up the doors to the backyard (which is all concrete and not huge) and let the kids play inside and outside. They had a wonderful time riding their bikes, drawing with chalk on the concrete, playing in their sandpit and laughing hysterically while bouncing each other on the trampoline. All simple activities that brought such joy. As I did chores around the house, I watched them and it was wonderful.

By saying no, to extra activities or social commitments, we have the opportunity for wonderful, slow Saturdays at home as a family. I know that for anyone in Melbourne this is the complete opposite of what they’re experiencing. I greatly appreciate that we can choose to stay home or to go out and I no longer take that for granted! I also appreciate that I live in a home with a backyard and a home that is safe to stay in. I don’t take that for granted either.

I wonder how much of this sense of slowness is also living into the gift of Sabbath. This opportunity to create space for and delight in God in our everyday lives.

We didn’t “do” anything particularly spiritual as a family that day (other than our usual practices of saying grace before meals and reading a Bible story book and saying prayers at bedtime) but did we see God at work in our home? Is how we cared for each other part of our discipleship? We noticed and enjoyed and were thankful for the sunshine and the sour sobs and God’s creation around us, is that part of our everyday discipleship? The blessing of the Sabbath is to rest and to delight in God and God’s creation around us.

Our day of just being at home, getting our life ordered meant that we weren’t just managing our life and feeling more on track but we were more likely to live our life well in the coming week. Sabbath means we have stopped the rush so that God can refresh us. This space for God to refill our souls so that we can pour out God’s love and grace to others, including those in our own homes, throughout the rest of the week. I certainly find it easier to be a more patient, forgiving, grace-filled person when I’m not feeling harried, dis-ordered and running low on time to connect with each other and with God.

Is that God at work in our everyday? Maybe, just maybe, that’s the true gift of slow days in our pyjamas.