Saturday, March 1, 2014

Sabbath Rest

I find myself with an unexpected day home.  At least I'm not sick or anything.  The bad weather moved in before I was able to get anywhere to go skiing, so I'm staying home today.  The road reports were not great this morning and the forecasts were for the weather and the roads to continue to get worse as the day goes on.  I do want to ski, but not bad enough to risk my life to get there, or to spend the time on the road stressed out by bad conditions, or wonder if my car will be able to make it back over one of the mountain passes that I would have to take to get home.  Nope, boring as it may be, I'm here for the day.

I may eventually kick it into gear and get productive for the day.  For now, I am just hanging out.  I did "get dressed", if you count all fleece as being dressed.  I'm comfortable, so what do I care that I look like a walking carpet?  I have also eaten breakfast, because who can relax with an empty stomach.  Other than that, I started reading a book, and I have been enjoying catching up on some of the 7 in 7 posts.  I may get outside and do something exercise-y later, but I may not.  We will just see how it goes.  The upshot to all of this is that I have time to write about that word that is so often considered a 4-letter word (in the figurative sense, obviously it IS a 4-letter word in the literal sense): rest.

I know I talked about this already this week, but I think it's so key.  I really enjoyed hearing that some people already make Sunday a day of rest, but I know a lot of people that don't.  I get why a lot of people don't.  They have no real relationship with God, so why would Sunday be a day to take it easy? I mean, I think we all need a day to rest, but why not make it any other day that works for you if Sunday doesn't?  It doesn't matter if you do not have a relationship with God.  What breaks my heart is the huge number of people that I know that do want to know and follow God, but Sunday is only different in that it is the day they go to church (obviously, that is a key part of it), then they come home and immediately go about getting all their other stuff done in the day.

I heard an explanation once of the reason that 7 was considered to be such a holy number by the Jewish people (PLEASE take this with a grain of salt, because I am going by memory and can't remember the source to double check myself and refer you to it).  It had a lot to do with the fact that it was a covenantal number and that it had to do with renewing the people's covenant with God and God's with the people.  This is why the seventh day was holy, it was about the covenant. It was about taking time to set aside all other things in life so that we could renew that covenant with God, and celebrate our family relationships as His people/

We are so frantic in our society by all the things that we have to get done.  Run here, do this, finish that project, etc.  I know my own list is never ending, and I don't even have kids!  I can only imagine how that list grows with so many more people contributing to it. As I mentioned earlier, we act as if everything will all fall apart immediately if we stop Doing. All. The Things! We know that we don't have enough time to get it all done, so we panic about one less day to do it in.

Keeping holy the Lord's day is not just a great suggestion for those who can happen to manage it.  It is, in fact, a commandment.  Like all of the commandments, it is not some mere rule to follow, but rather something that is meant to keep us from harm and help us to thrive in our lives and relationship with God.

As I know I have mentioned before, my parents realized years ago that this was maybe a commandment that we should try to follow.  It seemed strange at first, but I think that it is absolutely necessary now.  Because I have been doing this for years, I will tell you some of what works for me, but keep in mind that I don't do this perfectly and what works for me is not perfect for everyone. For those of you that also make a point to keep Sunday as a day of rest, please share your thoughts also!

1) I have to remember that it's not just a break in the time that I have to get all my stuff done.  It is a time to set it all aside and trust God with my time, with everything on my plate.  It's scary sometimes, but He won't let you down.

2) I have to be mindful of what I am doing.  I love to procrastinate, but I can't just leave it all because I know that Sunday is coming, and because it is not a day for catch up, so I have to stay on task.  I don't always stay on task, but I stay on task better than I would otherwise.

3) I don't schedule things on Sunday.  When my friends want to do something, I always tell them to text me on Sunday and I'll decide then.  I think that Sundays are made for family and friend time, so I don't say no, but there are some days where going somewhere is a lot of effort and other days that it's a lot of fun.  So I try not to schedule rigidly.  That way I can adjust the activities of the day to whatever feels right in that moment.

4) I do like to have especially good meals on Sundays, something that I really enjoy.  It's another way to set apart the day, and since the rest of the day is more low key, I have the energy to focus a little more on good food.  Though I usually don't make really labor- intensive meals.  Where's the fun in that?  One of my must haves on a Sunday? Chocolate milk for breakfast.  It's the little things, people. (And chocolate almond milk is ALMOST as good as the real thing.)

5) In a society where Sunday is just another day on the weekend, it is hard to get people to understand why you won't run around as crazily that day as every other day.  Once you tell people enough times, though, they will expect it, even if they don't fully understand it.  My friends know that as much as I love hiking and climbing and skiing and all the rest, that I usually won't go on Sunday because I'll be at church and then taking it easy.  I help out with some volunteer activities that sometimes go the whole weekend, and I'll usually tell them that I can help out Saturday if that's helpful, but I won't be able to help on Sunday.  No one usually blinks anymore, and they're usually just happy for whatever help I can offer. (These are not activities such as feeding the hungry; obviously that needs to be done on Sundays as well!)

6) I really try to avoid shopping on Sunday, too.  Running errands is not restful for me, and I don't want to contribute to someone else having to work on Sunday.  Is it really changing anything in the world as a whole?  No, the stores will still be open and doing brisk business on Sunday, but it definitely changes me, and it's not bad to be mindful of what you need ahead of time or to go without for the day.

7) I really try to have the house fairly clean by Saturday night.  Sunday is much more relaxing without the clutter.

8) I do like looking at Sunday as sort of a sundown to sundown proposition.  I don't quite do sundown, but I try to stop working by about 7 or 8 Saturday night.  Sunday night, then, at 7 or 8, I will do a few things around the house to get ready for Monday and do a few of those things I didn't get done before.  The rhythm of that works better for me.  I'm ready for the rest by Saturday night anyway, and getting those few things done Sunday night (I usually limit myself to about an hour) helps me be more relaxed and ready for the week to come.

I think that's all I have off the top of my head.  I would love to hear others' thoughts, too.  I'm starting to hear a lot of rumblings around the internet about the topic of rest, so I think we're starting to pay more attention to how important it really is.  I obviously don't live this perfectly, so I'm going to use Lent as a time to get rededicated to Sunday rest.  Even though in a way it sounds like an anti-sacrifice (whoever complained about having to take it a little easier?), it is, I think, a great way to celebrate Lent, because it is about giving up our time, letting go of our schedules and our lists, and opening up a time in our lives for Him to enter in.  What is Lent really about if not opening up spaces in our lives for Him?

1 comment:

  1. Oh, there is so much to this 7th day and rest! I need my notes from the course/retreat I was at in early January - but yes! It's more than just about taking a day off - it is crucial to who we are :).

    I wish I had some good suggestions, but I work on a lot of Sundays, though part of that work is always Mass, so it's sort of a mish-mash of rest/not really. The Man, however, is very good about this and most Sundays he is enjoying the afternoon.