Stephanie Rische

Stubbing My Toe on Grace

Sweet Sundays, Part 2 February 21, 2013

snail2In this post from January, I wrote about my journey toward embracing a day of rest. Here’s the latest on my Sabbath experiment.


Not long ago I was pulled over for speeding on a Sunday morning—on the way to church, no less. The irony was not lost on me. A day of rest, and I’m rushing to get there? I managed to explain my way out of the ticket, but not the breaking of the heart of the Sabbath.


One thing I’m noticing about the Sabbath is that rest, by its very nature, forces a slower pace. And while on the one hand that sounds appealing, it can also be terrifying when you’ve grown accustomed to the adrenaline-inducing rush that comes with our culture’s frenetic pace.


I’m finding that on Sundays I have to intentionally take my foot off the gas pedal. I have to resist the urge to go faster, even when I’m not going anywhere.


One baby step I’ve taken to slow down the Sunday pace is to reconsider my communication. E-mail, Facebook, and Twitter, by their very design, are fast paced. 140 characters. A jotted note. A quick Send button. I’m realizing, come Sunday, that I need to unplug. I’m not suggesting this as a blanket rule for everyone, but for me personally, media is no friend to rest. So I’ve taken to writing letters on Sundays instead. Old-fashioned, pen and paper letters. The kind with a stamp.


In the charming little book For the Love of Letters: The Joy of Slow Communication, the author talks about the awkwardness of getting back into a letter-writing habit after years of fast communication. He says: “The nib touches the paper. And instinctively I follow the old formula….My writing looks weird. I hand-write so infrequently these days that I’ve developed a graphic stammer—my brain’s way of registering its impatience and bemusement. What are you doing? Just send an email! I haven’t got all night!


I’ve been surprised to discover that not only is the form slower in letter writing, but so is the content. I write about different things when I’m penning a letter than I do when I’m shooting off an e-mail or a Facebook message. I tend to write about bigger things, deeper things, more permanent things, not just the wispy matters of the right-now.


Catherine Field said in a New York Times article, “A good handwritten letter is a creative act, and not just because it is a visual and tactile pleasure. It is a deliberate act of exposure, a form of vulnerability, because handwriting opens a window on the soul in a way that cyber-communication can never do.”letters1


And that feels in line with the Sabbath to me: slowing down to open a window to the soul.


“When your tongue is silent, you can rest in the silence of the forest. When your imagination is silent, the forest speaks to you. It tells you of its unreality and of the Reality of God. But when your mind silent, then the forest suddenly becomes magnificently real and blazes transparently with the Reality of God.”

—Thomas Merton


How about you? What does restful (and not restful) look like for you?

Have you taken any steps toward implementing a Sabbath lately?


9 Responses to “Sweet Sundays, Part 2”

  1. Judy Larson Says:

    I would love to receive a handwritten letter from you!

  2. Nancy Rische Says:

    I have actually begun to think about it but I have to admit that I have not really taken any action. I think I mentioned in your prior blog that God had already pointed out to me in my bible reading that we had somehow ignored that commandment in our fast-paced society. I know that He will not let me forget until I have heard and acted on His plan for me. Thanks for being part of His reminder.

  3. Linda Says:

    I still love to send (and receive!) handwritten letters. This is a wonderful post, Stephanie.

  4. Mostly my Sundays consist of church, hanging out with people, napping, and writing. Sometimes I work on other personal projects too, but I try to be careful with those because some of them feel more like work. If I get around to journaling, that ends up being the most life-giving thing I do.

    Usually I’m typing when I do all that writing. But there is something special about handwritten letters, because the writer is directly crafting the lines on the page, so she sort of rubs off on the whole presentation of the message. Fonts are more abstract. The only thing left for communicating the writer’s personality is the meaning of the words on the screen. That’s probably good enough, but still, a handwritten letter communicates more.

  5. […] day. I should have seen it as a gentle nudge from on high, reminding me that this was the day to slow down. But I was antsy that the day was slipping by, that the laundry was piling up, that my in-box was […]

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