I have lived a lot of life. I have learned lessons the hard way. Trust me, I would not qualify as a poster child for anything. If you believe Christ’s take on the Ten Commandments, I think have broken most of them; a couple of them I have pulverized. Fighting in the trenches of life, I have learned from my mistakes. Now that I am older, I have learned to survive, but that’s not good enough. What I want to do is to thrive. I do not intend to let the stress of living kill me nor do I plan to spend my life watching television in my bathrobe. I want to age with attitude and live an undaunted life. You would think my battle cry might be, “Full charge ahead!” It’s just the opposite. My battle cry is, “Just Rest.”
I think a better life begins with rest. From my book, A Month of Sundays:
The gift of Sabbath gives us permission to stop and take a breath.
It is a touchstone to the Divine. It reminds us to take a break from
our constant striving, judging, anticipating and worrying. It allows
us to us the time we need to quiet the constant chatter of our minds.
It asks us to simply meet life as it comes, to appreciate our imperfect
lives, and to feel at peace for one day or at least a little while.
My dad was a United Methodist minister so the Sunday mornings of childhood had a predictable, comforting sameness to them. We would go to church after which my mom made a big lunch. The next hour would be spent eating and critiquing my dad’s sermon. We did not hurry through our meal, anxious to move on to other activities. We lingered at the table.
When lunch was finished, my dad would go to sleep in his recliner. This made our only television unavailable. My mom would take a long nap. We kids had about a four-hour window of time when nothing was expected of us. It was a special time when could play or read. The rhythm of Sabbath time continued into my adulthood. My children had similar Sundays.
I lost my husband to pancreatic cancer the year I turned fifty. It was beyond awful. The sweet man with whom I planned to grow old was gone. I had no idea what to do with myself. Looking back, I know how I did it. I took it one Sunday at a time.
For six days of the week, I had to work and keep it together for my children but for one day a week I could grieve. I could pause long enough to reconnect with the things worth living for. I read, cried and slept. I wrote and prayed. I went for long walks. I spent time with my children and with the seven grandchildren who arrived in the decade after my husband’s death. Sabbath gave me the time to take a hard look at my life and to decide where I wanted it to go. Sabbath time allowed me to understand that even in the midst of profound sorrow there can be sincere happiness.
The goal of practicing Sabbath time is to become so engrossed by the simple nuances of living that we stop worrying about everyday problems. Sabbath time arrives anytime we intentionally, without feeling guilty, put our normal routine aside and focus on what is important to us. It creates a space to focus on others without distraction. It sets time aside to actively rest: to play, to sing, to read, to pray, to make out with our spouse.
If you have difficulty easing into Sabbath time, ask yourself what you would be doing if you were eight years old. Do that. Or ask yourself what you could so that would make you feel happy. Do that. Let Sabbath bring you joy. Everything else will be waiting for you tomorrow and you will meet it as a better version of you.
by, Paula Hartman
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