One of the greatest gifts given to all living members of our planet is the gift of rest. Trees lie dormant in winter. Bears hibernate. Homo sapiens need 7–9 hours of sleep every day. Our bodies need this time to rebuild and reenergize themselves. This time is necessary for our brains. Dreams come to us during this time and serve a purpose as well. Some people may need more sleep than others, but we all need a minimum required amount of sleep.
The practice of REST includes but is not limited to sleep. Resting also requires giving our bodies and souls a break. One of the ten commandments inform us of the need to “remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” Setting aside a Sabbath of rest is a holy practice. But, how many of us genuinely and faithfully adhere to this commandment? I know I do not. Sabbath and rest include sleep and time off from work, but also a lot more than that.
Author Tiffany Shlain wrote a book entitled: “24/6: The power of unplugging one day a week”. In her book she addresses our western, 21st century attachment to our technology: our TV’s, radios, Alexa’s, computers, and smart phones. Many of us have become overly connected to our devices. We frequently turn on our TV or radio. We open up and check our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and email accounts. These devices leave us frequently “plugged in” and awaiting the next episode, email, post, or tweet. For me, I see that insidious red bubble on my email app that informs me that I have two new email messages. I feel compelled and driven to erase that bubble! And how do I accomplish that? Well, by opening the app and responding to the email of course!
Many people in our parish are aware that I am particularly good at answering phone calls and responding to emails and texts. They like that I am responsive and available. I like that I am responsive and available. But for my physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing, that is not always a good thing. I personally struggle with being faithful to my Sabbath rest.
This past Monday I sent out my weekly time schedule to our Senior Warden and Parish Administrator. This is my way of informing them when I will be working, and when I will be off during the week. I have set up some clear parameters this week to guard my Sabbath time of rest more closely. Bob and Lynn are aware that during this time I will be unplugged. For me, Sabbath rest includes time for my personal spiritual disciplines – time to be alone with God. It also includes time with Desiree or other family members who may be visiting. It involves time out in nature at the beach or kayaking and taking pictures. During this time, I plan on not responding to those “little bubbles” on my smart phone app’s. I will not respond to emails. I also hope to keep away from online news or Facebook. Having said that, this does not mean that I will be unavailable if a parish emergency were to pop up. I have informed the church that in case of emergencies, I can be reached via text.
So, this is MY plan right now to put in place a regular holy Sabbath REST. What do YOU need to do to maintain a discipline of REST? For individuals who are retired, this will look quite different. Those who are retired may need to put time for rest and unplugged time deliberately into your schedule - or it may not happen. This will look different for each person depending on your schedule and relationships and your personality and temperament. It will need to be activities that feed your spirit and soul.
Statistics have shown that people who regularly schedule rest find themselves more productive and with increased creativity and energy during the remainder of their waking hours. May you offer yourself the gift of rest.