My first weekend off in four years

slippers

This morning we had our last ever Sunday nembutsu service here at the temple. From next weekend, our Sunday events are moving to Saturday and so we will have two days off in a row – Sunday and then the day we decided on as our own ‘Sabbath’, Monday.

Excepting holidays, this will be the first time in four years that I’ll have two days off in a row, and I can’t wait. The idea of waking up on a Sunday morning and knowing that we are free of work and temple commitments until Tuesday morning feels like an almost unbelievable luxury.

Why has it taken us so long? When we first moved in, we thought long and hard about when we would offer our three weekly nembutsu services. We felt that people would want a chance to practice on Sundays, as Saturdays are often ‘doing’ days, and Sundays are so traditionally linked with religious practice. In our heads we tried to move other events around to make two-days-off-in-a-row possible, but we could never work out how to do it.

After a recent holiday, we realised again how important it was for us to have a longer break every week. Somehow, we had the brainwave of Saturday nembutsu services. It was so simple! Doh! We approached our Sunday regulars and they were all supportive, even though the new time would be inconvenient for some of them. We decided to start the new schedule at the beginning of the December. And so here we are.

Apart from these culturally embedded associations between Sundays and religion, I think that the reason it took me so long was a lack of faith. I didn’t have faith that people would come on Saturdays. I twisted myself out of shape everso slightly every week, in a codependent effort to make it easier for people who were a little reluctant.

It is important for us to make what we offer here as accessible as we can – by offering events for families, by doing services at different times, and by asking people to pay only what they can afford. It’s also important that I feel completely comfortable with what I’m offering – happy to run the services week after week, regardless of how many people come or how much praise I get. If there is even a teensy bit of resentment, then it will be time to think again.

I have faith that our Saturday events will attract more people than our Sunday events did, but that’s not the most important thing. The important thing is that I listen to my calling and make changes when necessary. In the past I was called to write novels, and now I want to write Buddhist books. I felt called to train as a therapist and took lots of steps over time which made this possible. I feel called to regularly study the Dharma, and so I need to put time aside to do so.

I feel called to have two-whole-days-in-a-row off my priest, temple-manager, therapist and writerly duties, and I will HAVE two days off. I’m looking forward to this space, and I’m equally looking forward to the five days in between which are full of meaningful and nourishing work. Namo Amida Bu.
What changes do you feel called to make to your schedule or to the commitments you’ve made to others? Is a lack of faith holding you back?

(I hope you like my bunny slippers… I’ll be wearing these all next weekend!)

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