PANDEMIC PACING | Sabbatical Lessons from the observance of Sabbath

A Sabbatical is defined as a period of rest. It originated from the word Sabbath.

I’m curious how many of you have much experience with the whole concept of rest. I’m guessing it is quite foreign to most of you. 

I grew up in a home where we practiced the Sabbath. For the first 17 years of my life, on a weekly basis (that’s 884 Sabbaths), we followed a very intentional, deliberate, and conscious practice of rest.

Shortly after I was born, I was put into the foster care system and placed with the Sanjenko family – a very tall, very white, very safe family who later went on to adopt me when I was four years old. It was pretty obvious that I was adopted.

The Sanjenko’s were practicing SDA’s (Seventh-Day Adventists), fairly strict, Sabbath-keeping Christians with huge hearts, amazing community spirit, and incredibly progressive health habits. They accepted me into their family as one of their own. They are my family, and the core essence of their values and beliefs are deeply instilled into the foundation of who I am as a leader.

Every week for 24 hours (sundown Friday until sundown Saturday), everything shut off, completely off. Everything. The pause button was hit on ‘normal’ life, and the Sabbath was a full day of rest.


PANDEMIC PACING | Sabbatical Lessons from the observance of Sabbath | Featured


Here are some ideas that may help you with your new Sabbatical practice. Our Sabbaths were equally divided into four parts:

Introspection:  We called it ‘church’. You could utilize reading, journaling, meditation, visualization, any tool that encourages you to slow down and travel inward.

Community-Building:  After church was time for yummy, healthy food and plenty of visiting, the weekly potluck. This type of intentional visiting can also happen virtually!

Nature and Reflection:  Saturday afternoons meant nature walks or hikes to enjoy each other’s company and appreciate nature. 

Social Time:  After sundown, most weeks we enjoyed some type of quality social time – a volleyball or floor-hockey game, movie night, or talent show and a ton of great memories.

The main lesson I learned that I appreciate now more than ever was how intentional our Sabbaths were. You could feel them and their impact. They filled you up and fueled you forward. Parents were ready for another week. Families felt stronger. Communities felt closer.

This conscious break in busyness didn’t happen TO us, it happened FOR us.

As a young Indigenous girl in the 70’s who could have gotten stuck within the foster care system, I am deeply filled with gratitude every single day for the gift that is my life and the Sanjenko family. 

Indeed, there are no coincidences, and it is with this preparation that I choose to live more fully and intentionally now as we lead through the fire with faith, together.

Give yourself space to rest today. Quiet your mind, turn off your distractions, and allow yourself to receive what you need to hold you, to fill you and restore you, to fuel you for the week ahead. Perhaps the song below is a helpful vehicle for your practice today. Regardless of our backgrounds and beliefs, as Beings we call for healing, unity, and faith at this time. Quiet your mind, open your heart, and rest easy.



Charlene SanJenko is the Founder and CEO of PowHERhouse. A 20-year commitment to the mobilization of human potential for impact, Charlene’s upcoming 1-Woman Show, Feed The Fire, explores the relationship between fear, faith, and the fire of life and all that is life. Join the April 29th Staged Reading, a Food for Families Fundraiser, by registering here. Performances of Feed The Fire will launch Fall 2020.


  1. Benjamin smith on April 4, 2020 at 9:45 am

    And this, among a million other reasons, is why i love this woman more than words could ever express!!!

  2. Dana Caple on April 4, 2020 at 10:59 am

    Outstanding. I am left with a feeling of peace and bliss and love ~