Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work…. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
– Exodus 20:8-11
There is much to be said for work. It brings meaning to life. It generates money. It allows us to contribute something to the world. It provides us with an outlet for creative expression. It is a part of what makes us like God.
Yet work cannot be everything. Work – whether it be of the sort that earns a paycheck or of the sort that simply offers and gives of onesself to others and the world – can never define our lives.
When I am all about work, I am not at peace. I am too wrapped up in making sure that I get things done – and too worried about them not getting done – to have any rest. I become distrustful of God and I begin to operate on the assumption that I am somehow ultimately responsible for other people’s well being.
That is why the disipline of rest is so important to me. It is more than simply an excuse for me to kick back and fire up WoW or the latest Galactica for a few hours (though I often do these things during my “rest” times). It is a time to let God be in charge of the world. A time to remind myself that, in spite of my occasional delusions, all does not depend on me.
It is a time to be quiet, to listen to others, and to – literally – do nothing. Nothing productive anyway. It is a time to reflect on what I’ve been doing, where I am going, and why I am doing it.
But rest, I’m finding, does simply happen. Peace, it seems, has to be practiced. In the rhythms of every day, every week, and every year. And more and more I find myself defending – keeping holy (to use the Old Testament term) – certain places and times in my life: fun Friday nights with the kids, quiet Sunday afternoons at home, the tranquil hours after 11 pm.
These are sacred times and spaces: places where I turn loose of my anxieties and let the world go on without me for a while.