Puttering as a Sabbath Activity

No no no... puttering, not putting. There was some good back and forth on my Facebook page about my post, Some People Don't Need Sabbath. One person pushed back against a specific kind of Sabbath that includes pampering and other activities that seem indulgent:

I don't think I don't need Sabbath, but I don't think I need a specific version of Sabbath, but to some people that means I think I don't need Sabbath. Intentionality (that really should be a word) about my callings (in my relationships, my church, my community) seems to be the key to the Sabbath experience to me.

Another person commented:

Sometimes sabbath means prayer, sometimes taking a nap, sometimes watching tintin for the gazillionth time with my ten year old, other times cleaning out a closet. Sometimes it means being alone, sometimes with other people. It seems like it's more frame of mind then what I am actually doing. Also, things that seem Sabbathy one time do not seem so another time - sometimes tooling around on FB for half an hour can feel like a great way to both unwind and connect, othertimes it's like my brain is pouring out my ears when I do that. The key for me is to recognize when I'm having the second experience and go do something else instead, instead of getting sucked into things that seem like they should be Sabbathish but actually are not.

I think this is why I'm so drawn to the rhythms of improv lately. Sabbath is not a formula. What works at one moment in time won't always work. You can set out a plan for a day of personal Sabbath, and then the kid gets sick. What then? Intentionality is the whole key.

The second commenter also recommended this great article, The Art of Puttering. It doesn't seem to be behind a paywall so check it out in its entirety. My favorite bits:

Puttering differs from multitasking in that most of it is grounded in the actual, physical world. Puttering is also marked by a gentle, even leisurely rhythm; it involves moving back and forth from one chore to another at a sedate pace. Puttering, unlike multitasking, is not marked by a sense of urgency. Puttering allows for breaks in the work, for a cup of coffee or even a burst of play.

Perhaps puttering helps one do what the apostle Paul called praying without ceasing. Puttering leaves or opens space for a frequent and leisurely return to prayer throughout the day. Its rhythms are freeing and relaxing.

Our family Sabbath days are full of puttering. The difference between is, we're not under the gun to get a specific list of things done. We follow our heart's desire from moment to moment. This means that Sabbath days can be quite active. The thing about sitting around all day on the Sabbath... I don't know where that comes from. (Actually I do. God bless the Puritans.)

Puttering also provides a way to get through what Barbara Brown Taylor calls "sabbath sickness," that sense of unease we get when we step off the hamster wheel. Puttering gives you a place to put that nervous energy. But instead of attacking the garage cleanout or other "shoulds," you can hop from one delight to the next. What's not to like?