Pens In Real Life: The Sabbath

I’m fascinated with the idea of the Sabbath…of having a day that’s more meaningful and less frantic. Typically, I find myself spending Sunday cramming in all of the stuff that I should have done earlier in the weekend. I do my GTD Weekly Review—and update my personal and work Action/Waiting/Maybe lists—every weekend, but sometimes this gets pushed to the bitter end, and that’s not a happy scenario. In 2017, I want to rethink and revamp my Sundays so that they’re slower paced and thoughtful, not just another day on the hamster wheel of life.

Westminster window

One of the Tiffany windows in our sanctuary. Those blues! (Of course, the colors make me think of ink.)

For me, part of what helps to set the stage for the rest of the day, as well as the rest of the week, is attending church. Sometimes we’d rather sleep late and eat a leisurely breakfast of homemade waffles, but we usually fight this urge and get to church on a fairly regular basis.

We attend a mainstream, downtown church with gorgeous Tiffany windows and an expansive sanctuary. The congregation isn’t large in numbers, but there is love and kindness and a desire to make the world a better place. Sunday morning is both restorative (in a way that waffles aren’t), and inspirational. I often walk away thinking, “This was exactly what I needed to hear.”


Field Notes in a Doane Paper Horween Leather cover with my Tactile Turn Glider

One problem, though. My mind wanders. During a scripture reading or the sermon, suddenly I realize that my mind has strayed to my to-do list or a nagging problem or anxiety. I miss chunks of the message as my mind tunes in and out, like a bad AM radio station. GAH!

Recently, I decided to fix that problem by taking notes. Smack in the middle of my “personal” notebook and to-do lists, you’ll now find my church notes. I know…this is a stupidly obvious solution, especially considering how often I jot down things for other aspects of my life. Oddly, it just hadn’t occurred to me to do the same in church.


“Be vulnerable and risk ourselves to work for a better world.”

By sitting still with pen and paper, I find myself riveted to the words and the message. The mere act of writing down the main points means that I absorb them better at the time, and that they stick even after I walk out of the sanctuary. I thought about using a dedicated “church” notebook, but I’m glad I went this route. As I’m flipping through the pages during the week, I sometimes come upon the words I wrote down the Sunday before, often just when I need them most. A dedicated notebook would probably only be carried to and from church, not with me every day, as inspiration and lessons should be.


Words to remember and live by.

There is work to be done in this world. There is work to be done with my life. I’m hoping that 2017 is a year where I can move the needle in the right direction for both the world and myself—where I slow down every so often to reset my priorities and energies. Using Sunday more as a day of rest (and visiting, and writing), rather than just another day to frantically tick off to-dos, feels like a step in the right direction. Having the words of inspiration and guidance with me every day is already making a difference.

I’m writing things down to remember them now, and to remember them later. I’m writing them down so that I do, indeed, remember to uphold compassion, joy, peace, patience, and mercy.

Here’s to 2017. Here’s to love.

29 thoughts on “Pens In Real Life: The Sabbath

  1. I totally agree with you. Having a Sabbath is important, and taking notes in church is very helpful. I, too, am a note-taker. Thanks for sharing.

    • My Sabbath needs a lot of work, but I’m loving the note taking practice. Even if I never look at them again, the messages embed so much deeper.

  2. Great post! I really like the idea of not using a dedicated book so that the church notes can be found during the day-to-day. I second your 2017 goals and hopes. Happy New Year!

  3. I am so glad to hear that I’m not the only one who whips out a notebook and pen at church! I take notes in church to increase my focus and to listen closer to the messages of the service. I will try to write down a phrase or word that resonates with me in my everyday Field Notes notebook I carry almost everywhere. It could be from the readings or from the homily or even something another church-goer has said. Thanks for sharing and write on!

  4. Thanks Mary. Love the piece — simple and profound. And the penmanship and photography connect so well. Lucky the preacher where you are a listener. Bob

  5. Take notes everyday after reading a bit of scripture, Lectio Divina, reflect personally on what you just read and prayed. It’ll become a prayer journal of sorts, you can watch your relationship with Christ develop and deepen over time.

  6. Pingback: Sunday Notes and Links – January 8, 2017 | Fountain Pen Quest

  7. Such a thoughtful post. I, too, am a note taker in church. Maybe more accurately a recorder of phrases that strike me. Thanks for this sharing and for your intent in 2017.

  8. I always have my Field Notes handy at church, and love having my thoughts tumbled in with other day-to-day stuff. Your larger context of Sabbath is something I need a lot of work on, though! Thank you for the thoughtful, beautifully written reminder.

  9. Very inspiring to make notes in church, thank you!
    At home I make notes about my relation with God and Jesus Christ and also about my doubts and temptations every day. That helps me for selfreflection and to strenghten my belief.
    It’s always good to keep yourself awake and to feed your belief by this way of taking notes at home and in church.


    Lisse, The Netherlands

  10. Thank you for this post, and all the rest of them. I noticed your referenced GTD. Have you read “What’s Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done” by Matt Perman? Hands down the best, most helpful book on productivity I’ve ever read.

  11. Dear Mary, This, like all of your blogs is an inspiration. I have been quietly admiring and enjoying your writing for awhile. Hope all is well with you and looking forward to your next one! Yours, Mary

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