It was a lovely Tuesday morning in Maine—clear blue skies and the smell of autumn in the air. Dr. Matthew Sleeth had just gotten home from working a shift in the ER when his wife Nancy returned from the post office. “Something awful has happened. An airplane has crashed into the World Trade Center.”
They turned on the television just in time to see the second Trade Center building go down. Then the phone rang. It was their neighbor: “Matthew, can you help me tell Jamie that his father was in the second plane?”
September 11, 2001, was a tragic day—for Jamie and for the world. But something beautiful also happened. People stayed home. They called family and friends just to say “I love you.” They prayed. They stopped and helped their neighbors.
Prior to 9/11, Matthew and Nancy Sleeth were living the American Dream. Matthew worked as an ER doctor—chief of the hospital staff and director of emergency services. On the outside, their lives looked perfect, but something was missing.
What was missing was time—time for family, time for God, time for the things that really mattered. So the Sleeths and their two pre-teen children decided to begin keeping a weekly Sabbath. The family cleaned the house together on Saturday. The kids got their homework done by Saturday night. On Sunday morning, they walked to church and then put it in park for the rest of the day—reading, napping, taking walks, playing board games. The only two rules: play and pray.
This regular rhythm of work and rest changed the entire trajectory of the Sleeth’s lives. They found that the more they “gave up,” the more joy and meaning they gained. Instead of human doings, they became human beings.
To share the gift of Sabbath rest with others, Dr. Sleeth wrote a book, 24/6. In it, he shares the physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits of holy rest. The Sleeths were asked to prepare a 24/6 DVD curricula, which thousands of churches, schools, and small groups are now using.
Blessed Earth, the nonprofit ministry that the Sleeths founded, leads clergy, laity, and para church retreats around the country. On this Sabbath Living website, you can discover a wide range of resources for embracing the gift of holy rest. For regular updates, sign up for the Blessed Earth monthly newsletter.
September 11 was a wake up call for the Sleeths and many Americans. Sabbath helps us remember to slow down, so we can appreciate the blessings in our lives…and be a blessing to others!
So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. –Genesis 2:3