Sabbath: the lost art of resting

17 September 2019

I’m not sure when the shift happened, but I bought into the idea that true rest could only be experienced while on vacation.

But not just any vacation; perhaps rest could be found on a white sandy beach, sipping on young coconut.

Or in taking that first bite of authentic Italian pasta at the side of a sunset hill.

My most desired vacation fantasy? Drinking champagne in the south of France, eating canelés and fresh fruit. I’d do anything to find rest.

Somewhere in the mix of dreaming, reality, and fantasy, the idea of rest became more unreachable; even unattainable.

A couple months ago, I felt especially restless; fatigued by the notion of having to do it all and just work hard enough. Working during the day, commuting over an hour with my son, and managing multiple client demands for my business in the evenings and weekends. My mind was functioning on 6 hours of interrupted sleep; I was sick often, irritable, and drained. I needed a vacation.

But in order to go on a vacation, I needed to work more. Vacations cost money.

One day, in the silence of the evening, alone in my living room, I heard a whisper. Inside, I felt something say this is not how you are meant to live: exhausted, fatigued, restless. Rest is here for you, and it’s not a faraway land.

Shabat. In Hebrew, it means rested. Sabbath. It means to stop, to cease, to celebrate, to complete. You may have heard it referred to as “day of rest”.

Remember when stores were closed on Sundays? Sunday used to be society’s day of rest. You don’t see many stores closing on Sundays any more.

But what does rest look like for a person living in our hurried culture, who perhaps is part of a big family, parent of a young child, working during the day, side hustle at night?

Is it binge watching Netflix in bed on a Saturday morning, perhaps? Some online shopping – a little treat yourself? Some mindless social media scrolling?

None of the above – not to me. I don’t tend to feel energized after those activities.

Rest starts with…setting aside a half day – maybe even a full day – in the week to do the things that bring you rest. Once a week. Every week.

Rest, for me, looks a lot like… reading a book while my son naps, or listening to a podcast while I play lego with him.

It looks like… making space and time to write or cook – to create something for the sake of creating.

It looks like… being in nature; a bike ride through the city. A snack along the lake, or a walk outside. .

It looks like… dinner with my family that stretches out into the evening.

A time of rest includes activities that fill and energize you: those activities that allow you to practice delight; instil a sense of joy; and remind you of all the things in life for which to be grateful.

Why do we seek rest?

We seek rest, so that we can do purposeful work the remainder of the week.

We seek rest, so we can find contentment in all we’ve been given; all the gifts, goodness and privileges in our lives.

We seek rest, so that we can hear the voice within, and reflect on the deepest questions of our heart.

We seek rest, so that there is something to look forward to every single week.

Rest is life-giving, because we are meant to rest. To resist the urge to do it all and just work hard enough until you ‘get there’. It’s an invitation to practice presence, in an age of distraction and hurry.

Rest isn’t a faraway land. It doesn’t have to be your next vacation. It doesn’t require a lot of money. It doesn’t have to be a fantasy.

But it does take intentionality and preparation. Our culture does not want you to rest.

Rest is a gift. We can grab hold of it if we want. We can make of it what we want. It can be sipping champagne in the south of France, but it can also be sitting at your dinner table.

What does rest look like for you?

Feature Photo by Photodot Images.

One Comment

  1. Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy, six days shall though labour and do all thy work… even god rested!


    IN THE WINTER I spend it in my bed 🙂 with a hot chocolate and croissant and a lot of tv. OR I go to church OR BOTH!

    wonderful article and great reminder.

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