A Day of Rest
“What did you do this weekend?” a friend asked me on a Monday morning. “Nothing much,” was my knee-jerk response. But “nothing” couldn’t have been farther from the truth.
Saturday was spent shuffling the kids from one set of grandparents to the other so that I could race to clean the house and get caught up on laundry, while they were watched. Saturday afternoon was spent teaching a class. Sunday was a blur of last-minute preparations for the coming week: grocery shopping, bulk cooking, ironing work clothes, paying bills, and writing an article.
Nothing restful. Nothing delightful. Nothing relaxing…should have been my answer.
Keep Holy the Sabbath Day
The concept of the Sabbath begins in the story of creation when God himself modeled this by resting on the 7th day. Again, we see this wisdom passed from God to his people when he ordered that the land should be given a Sabbath year of rest every 7th year — nothing planted and harvested on the soil for that year so that it would be ready to plentifully produce for the next 6 years that followed.
Later, we know it as part of the 10 Commandments, right there alongside other fundamental laws like “do not murder” which we are to live by.
When it comes to understanding and wisdom on how to best care for ourselves, I have come to trust in the Creator’s instructions. I believe He knows a thing or two about our health and wellness. Keeping the Sabbath as a true day of rest and renewal just may be the simple, overlooked key to balancing the hectic overwhelming pace of life that we lead.
“But how can I possibly ‘give up’ one whole day to do nothing? Monday morning will come, and the week will be a disaster without all the preparations.”
Wayne Muller, author of Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in Our Busy Lives says, ” The more our life speeds up, the more we feel weary, overwhelmed, and lost…The whole experience of being alive begins to melt into one enormous obligation.”
All or nothing?
How can we reclaim the Sabbath as a Day of Rest? Start by subtracting one thing and adding another.
For example, choose one chore, task, or agenda-driven thing that does not have a place on a day of rest (like email, work, laundry, bills, etc.) and remove it from a 24-hour period.
Then add one element to your Sabbath day that is noteworthy and directly related to delighting, being in the present moment, relaxing, or rejuvenating. Perhaps a morning walk, stretching on the sofa for a mid-day nap, a long slow cup of tea in a favorite chair, a coffee date with your friend or spouse, or a picnic with your kids in the backyard. You get the idea.
Put it to the test.
Watch to see if the quality of energy you have for the upcoming week changes. See if, in making rest a priority, you find new ways to fit all that needs to be done into the 6 other days. Observe whether you know more clearly what things can be removed from your plate, to open up more time.
Keep adding one and subtracting one until you find the Day of Rest that you long for and that prepares you to take on the week ahead in a balanced, energized and productive way.
Then on Monday morning when someone asks about your weekend, you can answer, “A whole lot of intentional, peaceful and relaxing nothing!”
Great idea! We have to purposely rest from our frenetic lives. It seems like Sunday is the logical day to do that.
I also find that daily meditation calming and restful.
Your suggestions for working a Sabbath into our week are very good. I’ve never heard those and think they are well worth passing on. Baby steps. Give up an activity and implement an activity in its place. I can do that. This is a very good article. Thanks.
Those are similar results to what certain companies found in the industrial revolution. When they actually allowed their employees to take one day off a week, productivity went UP!
Bodies and spirits need to rest… Thanks for the good reminder.
Roger: Yes, I also believe we need to weave in calm, quiet moments every day and not leave it all to one day a week– though I also think there is something special we receive when we do reserve a whole day toward renewal.
Valerie: I find “baby steps” are the way I approach many things!
Jamie: Interesting point!
Sunday is a “work” day in one sense for us as we are very involved in serving within our church. I prepare everything possible the day before. When I do extra cooking/baking on Saturday, Sunday is even more enjoyable. We arrive home from church hungry and having leftovers for lunch and healthy snacks available means less rush and work for my husband and myself. I often go for a walk with my husband or a friend. But the one thing I’d most like to subtract from our Sabbath is my husband going into school for prep work in the late afternoon. He works hard teaching, coaching & reffing all week but still ends up needing more time to get his classroom prepared for the upcoming week. I feel desperate to slow down more… all year I’ve been searching for wisdom so I appreciate the topic of the post.
This will sound weird, but usually on Sunday afternoons we come home, change into comfies and relax on the couch while playing on our Wii. Sometimes I fall asleep with my head on his lap while he plays. It’s a great way for us to spend time together but completely veg. I love this routine and always want to take that kind of time together (even though I’m sure how we spend that time will change).
I totally unplugged yesterday and am feeling the renewal today. My wife and children all deserved it and I felt fortunate I was able to give it to them.
I love your blog! So glad I found it!! We try not to do much on Sunday. We are already doing church for hours. We usually relax! We all need it from time to time, it fills you back up! For me, it reminds me that doing the dishes can wait because this is the time to spend with the hubby and kids! Thanks for the reminder that God did give us the 7th day for rest!!
It sure is difficult to “turn off” for a day, whether that be computer, to-do list, stress level… I have been repeatedly knocked on the head with “keep holy the Sabbath” ideas over the past year, and I keep thinking, “That’s not for me; that’s Old Testament stuff! Can’t do it.” A few months ago I decided that Baby Steps was the way to go. I wouldn’t avoid all work on Sundays, but just go with the flow of my family, and if I found myself stressing out about something, checking the to-do list frantically, or expecting something to “get done”, it wasn’t Sabbath-y enough. But I could work outside with my husband, do laundry if I noticed it needed to be done, etc. It was all about mindset. This is a good reminder to get back on the horse and try to stick with that.
LOVE THIS!!! Do you ever do guest posts – I would love to use this post as a guest post on my organizing blog!
I just found your blog again. Not so sure how I lost it. We think a lot alike. I love biochem and quantum physics, too! Although, I don’t admit it in certain circles 🙂 Sunday’s seem rushed for us – sunday school and church in the morning and church in the evening with a rushed lunch in between before my husband has to go to work for a couple hours. I get to relax in the afternoon if the kids let me!! 🙂
Sunday is family day for us. We sleep in, one of us usually makes breakfast in bed for the other (we take turns), we read the paper. We relax. I usually bake (which is relaxing and enjoyable for me). We try not to leave the house, but just enjoy the day off. There is no working, there is no studying, there is no getting together with other people. It’s just us.
What a great idea… Thanks…
I’ve just read a few of your posts and am looking forward to catching up on the rest. Thank you for this wonderful blog!!!
I read, sit with the cat, take a bubble bath, and enjoy my family time.
[…] is similar to how keeping a true sabbath is so easy to put off, to justify it’s irrelevance in today’s life, to downplay […]