“Remember the sabbath day,
and keep it holy.
Six days you shall labor and do all your work.
But the seventh day
is a sabbath to the Lord your God;
you shall not do any work—
you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns.
For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them,
but rested the seventh day;
therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day
and consecrated it.”
May these words ignite our holy curiosity and creativity. Amen.
Our son Charlie was just over a year old. It was an ordinary afternoon, I don’t even know what day of the week it was. We were all busy doing something…cooking, cleaning, playing, just normal afternoon stuff, and Charlie disappeared. One minute he was there playing with his toys and the next…he was just…gone.
We asked Ellie, “Where’s your brother?”
“I don’t know.”
We searched high and low and under and over. We searched inside closets, and in the bathtub, and under our bed, and under the sink. We checked the basement (had he fallen down the stairs?). We checked the backyard, though I’m pretty sure he didn’t know how to open the door yet. We searched everywhere (we thought) and were just beginning to really panic.
We searched everywhere (we thought) again, and finally checked…his crib. And there he was, sound asleep, having put himself to bed for a nap.
Just over a year old—it never occurred to us that he would be sleeping, in his own bed, put there voluntarily.
What is it about rest, that we learn to fight it as babies, and never stop trying to defeat it? How many of us have held crying babies, who desperately need sleep, but who fight it with every fiber of their being as we rock, and sway, and sing and pray, and rub their tired brows, fighting—to the very last—the thing they need most.
What is it about rest, something we spend at least a third of our lives doing, that we try to act like it’s something we don’t need, and something we can live without?
What is it about rest, that when searching for a one-year-old, his own bed was the very last place we thought to check?
What do we have against rest?
Ours is a society that values work, productivity, energy and “get-up and go.”
We value doing rather than being and it goes back generations. Consider the Yankee work ethic, built on the shoulders of the puritan work ethic. Idle hands are the devil’s playthings….
This might sound really obvious to you, but it was in college that my spouse, Sam, pointed out that sleep and rest are often used as signs of weakness in the movies. (Hunger and eating often are too.) The hero stays awake, while the one in need of saving, sleeps. Somehow, Hollywood has convinced us that basic human needs are a sign of weakness.
And yet, God rested. God, creator of all things and everything, God rested. God took a moment to reflect, to consider what God had made…all the things God called good…God took a moment and what’s more…God invited, commanded us to do the same. To stop. To ponder. To reflect. To notice.
To rest….and God invites…even commands us to the same.
When was the last time you rested with God? When was the last time you played with God, enjoying creation, enjoying yourself, enjoying God?
So often, too often, we fill our calendars to overflowing…with tasks, and appointments, and responsibilities, and obligations, that we forget, or overlook, or undervalue resting…stopping, simply being.
We know that rest, play, downtime are good for us…it changes our brain chemistry, it reduces the symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress. Rest is good for our brains, our bodies, our souls. Rest strengthens our creativity. Naps are proven to help us perform better on tests. Productivity in offices increases when there’s time for daydreaming and play.
We know this and yet we fight it.
The to-do list of our lives and our world is never-ending. There is always something to do and something to be done. What if you added sabbath keeping to your to-do list?
What if you treated it as sacred as any other appointment on your calendar?
You wouldn’t stand up a doctor, so why would you stand up God?
This week, how will you practice sabbath?
Will you walk along the beach with God?
Will you wake early and take in the sunrise?
Will you lay in the grass and ponder?
Will you play board games with your family, or enjoy a special meal?
How will you take a sacred pause, take in the beauty of God’s creation, the wonder of the world, and give thanks to God?