You may have noticed that I post nearly every day except for Saturdays. Saturday is my day of rest.
Many religions of the world have a day of rest. Jews and some Christians rest on Saturdays or Sabbath. Other Christians rest on Sunday. Friday is the day of special worship for Muslims. Buddhists have an intense day of meditation and cleansing called Uposatha.
Rest and renewal of the body and spirit are essential aspects of health.
Let's take a moment to look at the impact of rest on the body:
My spirit needs rest for the same reasons. I need to commune with friends and family who love me and support me. Through acts of generosity and service I become less focused on myself. By thanking my Creator, I realize how blessed I am. When I ask Him for help, I let go of the stress associated with feeling like I must do it all on my own.*
I rest my body. I never work out on Saturdays. I do minimal cleaning and extra napping. I try to have food ready the day ahead of time. I don't run errands or go to the store.
After this period of rest, I am renewed. I become stronger for the challenges the next week will bring.
I'm not saying it is always easy. My family has a hard time resting. I feel like I need to sweep the kitchen floor or wash the dishes. Though my body often needs the most rest, I can't sleep away the whole day and let my three year-old terrorize the neighborhood! Even going to a place of worship can be stressful when three of us are taking turns in the bathroom, trying to get ready.
Here are some things I think are essential for a day of rest.
1. Prayer and Meditation. When I contemplate the wonders of the universe, stories of faith, and miracles, I find hope and my problems seem smaller. I pray and I feel connected again. I don't worry anymore, or at least, not as much. My body feels lighter. I feel rested. If I don't take time to regularly pray and meditate on my day of rest, I don't really rest. I end up working and worrying like any other day.
2. Unplugging. By disconnecting from the internet, turning off the television, etc., I am able to listen. I am able to focus. Because technology links our personal lives and our work lives, we end up blurring the two and never really resting from work.
3. Service. A day of rest can be the best day to work for others. Volunteering with an organization or helping a neighbor rake her lawn can be very rewarding and restful for the spirit.
4. Family and Friends. Reconnecting in a meaningful way with our family and friends is a necessary part of rest and renewal. Instead of just facebooking, actually going to see people we care about fills us with energy for week ahead. We also meet with our church family and share a vegetarian meal with them after worship services. I try to spend the afternoon playing with our three year-old and reading to him, instead of fixing supper, blogging, or cleaning my house.
5. Returning to Nature. Probably the ultimate place to refocus and realign myself with the Creator is by spending time in Creation. Even the quiet of my backyard can be a sanctuary where I see how everything created is connected and in tune with everything else. Picnics, hikes, or even just scenic drives can be very soothing to the senses.
6. Preparation. In order to really rest, I have to prepare first. I make food ahead of time so I don't have to cook. We buy whatever we need in advance to ensure we don't have to worry about shopping. We also have little rituals for our family, like putting out a special tablecloth, lighting a candle which is only used on Saturday, and using the family silver and china. All of these things take a little extra work, but they really enhance our day of rest.
I don't believe any of these things save me, but they do help me reconnect with the One who does. I want us to rest like this every week, though often I get distracted or we get too busy to spend a day for renewal. I hope that each week we get a little closer to resting like we should. When my family has a day of rest, the entire week is better. We accomplish more. The stress level doesn't get quite as high. We are kinder, more generous, and care for our bodies a little better.
Speaking of preparation, I have lots to do before sundown!
Do you have any time that you set away as sacred for worship, time with family, or time in nature? What do you do to help make sure that happens? Do you have rituals for that day?
(*I really don't think God has a gender, but "Him" is what most are familiar with.)