In the relentless busyness of modern life, we have lost the rhythm between action and rest. As the founder of a public charity I visit the offices of wealthy donors, crowded social service agencies, and the small homes of the poorest families. Remarkably, within this mosaic there is a universal refrain: “I am so busy.” I speak with people in business and education, doctors and day-care workers, shopkeepers and social workers, parents and teachers, nurses and lawyers, students and therapists, community activists and cooks. The more our life speeds up, the more we feel weary, overwhelmed and lost….
Because we do not rest, we lose our way. We miss the compass points that show us where to go. We lose the nourishment that gives us succor. We miss the quiet that gives us wisdom. Poisoned by the hypnotic belief that good things come only through tireless effort, we never truly rest. And for want of rest, our lives are in danger. How have we allowed this to happen? This was not our intention; this is not the world we dreamed of when we were young and life seemed full of possibility and promise. How did we get so terribly rushed in a world saturated with work and responsibility, yet somehow bereft of joy and delight? I suggest it is this: We have forgotten the Sabbath.
Most spiritual traditions prescribe some kind of Sabbath, time consecrated to enjoy and celebrate what is beautiful and good – time to light candles, sing songs, worship, tell stories, bless our children and loved ones, give thanks, share meals, nap, walk, and even make love. It is time to be nourished and refreshed as we let our work, our chores and our important projects lie fallow, trusting that there are larger forces at work taking care of the world when we are at rest.
Sabbath is more than an absence of work; it is a day when we partake of the wisdom, peace and delight that grow only in the soil of time – time consecrated specifically for play, refreshment and renewal. Many of us, in our desperate drive to be successful and care for our many responsibilities, feel terrible guilt when we take time to rest. But the Sabbath has proven its wisdom over the ages. The Sabbath gives us the permission that we need to stop, to restore our souls….
Rest is not just a psychological convenience; it is a spiritual and biological necessity. Perhaps that is why, in most spiritual traditions, “Remember the Sabbath” is more than simply a lifestyle suggestion. It is a commandment, an ethical precept as serious as prohibitions against killing, stealing, and lying….
In Jesus’ famous sermon on the mount, he exhorts us, “Don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow...