Sunday, October 04, 2009

Take a Break!

“In the relentless busyness of modern life,” Wayne Muller writes in Sabbath: Finding Rest and Renewal in Our Daily Lives (Bantam, 2000), “we have lost the rhythm between work and rest.” He explores the concept of “Sabbath” and its rituals and references in Judaism, Christianity, and Buddhism. Muller says the Sabbath is celebrated in various forms because it is in our nature to need a day a week to rest, celebrate, delight in, and savor our lives. During the rest of the week we may be driven by work, tasks, and worries, but once a week we’re supposed to chill out.

A true Sabbath, he argues, is a day of reflection and a day of no activities done out of obligation. Whether your Sabbath is spent alone or with friends or family or the larger community, the only goal should be rest and renewal.

Which is why when my friend Sheri prefers to stay home from church on Sunday mornings to garden, I think she is taking a particularly special form of the Sabbath. And why this morning when I hiked along the Coralville Reservoir, thinking about John Muir’s enthusiasm for nature as the greatest of all temples, I too was “obeying” the Sabbath…as I was later this afternoon while working on my novel, feeling the warm sun coming in my office window, enjoying the rush of a scene coming alive on the page.

If you’re a creator – an artist, writer, gardener, musician – and if you’re looking for an excuse to work on that creative project you’ve shelved for awhile, just remember that you owe yourself – and life itself – a Sabbath at least once a week. If on that day you are creating with joy and peace and delight, you’re honoring the Sabbath.

On the other hand, sometimes we need a break from everything. Doing nothing is an option, too.

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