Keeping the Sabbath
or You have to know when to take a break
“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.............”
What is the importance of relaxing and recreation?
“ It is fairly straightforward: Our body cannot operate without rest, just as it cannot operate without food and water.” Physiotherapist and health scientist Iris Odding conducts seminars at the Knowledge centre De Baak (The Beacon), founded by the Dutch Christian Employers Union. She teaches people to take a break, how to rest.
"A child knows when it needs a rest: it falls asleep. Because of the pressure that adults apply to themselves and expose themselves to, they think they cannot take a break. Being busy is in fashion. Everybody is busy, you are nobody if you are not busy."
One of the first questions people ask each other : What do you do?
According to the Central Bureau for Statistics 10% of the Dutch adults are 'emotionally exhausted': they are extremely tired and miss work. The causes of burn-out are manifold, but
lack of rest and
lack of reflection
are two important ones. Individualization and de-churching play a role here; both appear to stimulate people to look for their identity quicker in their daily work.
How do we define ourselves, how do we define other people when we converse?
On the website www.burnin.nl (a knowledge centre for stress and burn-out) it is mentioned how the Sunday rest suffers from de-churching: the weekly day off is more and more being filled in with "reading some documents or catching up on some administrative work".
Just like to eat is different than to stuff some food inside, rest is not the same as laying off a bit whenever it suits you. Except when there is a certain regularity to it, something consciously planned. It does affect a person positively when they take a short nap on a regular basis in the middle of the day.
Keeping the Sabbath is the heart of the fourth commandment.
'Six days you shall work and do all your work, but the seventh day...'
God puts this day in a revealing framework.
The day of rest is about devotion to and honouring God; after the liberation from slavery there is no reason to become enslaved again. Not from Egyptians and not from work.
This day is a redemptive one, it is for redirecting, reflexion and meditation. It is a day for complete renewal, finding things in ourselves we weren't using etc.
That's why 'honouring God' has more to do with honouring that what God represents than paying hommage to some distant deity. It has everything to do with spending time on relationships with others as well as with yourself. Cherishing the relationship with your environment.
I know it may sound quaint for some people but including in the sabbath keeping all of life, such closing of stores and non-essential businesses and institutions, keeping Sunday traffic to an absolute minimum, would definitely add to the quality of life. Somehow or other I fail to grasp the economic importance of the seven day shopping week.
Living on one of Belleville main arteries into the city, I appreciate the relative calm early on the Saturday and Sunday mornings. The world looks and feels different.
This does not necessarily mean going to church on a regular basis, although going to church might facilitate a better way of getting the break that many people need. The opportunity to meditate, to interact with other people in a less competitive atmosphere. Church going could certainly classify as one of the better venues to a sense of renewal, a sense of connecting with what is important and what keeps us out of bondage.
Yes, we have the task to work in his creation with the talents we were given, but that does not mean that we would be run by it. Being busy with our everyday needs and cares makes no difference - we have to know when to stop.
"He gives it to his beloved in the sleep", Psalm 127
Too little rest gives problems sooner or later. Our brains have limited intake capacity and we are confronted even more so with it when the pressure increases, according to Odding.
"Example? ...It used to be that society was more transparent, tasks were more clearly divided and assigned: the husband worked and the wife cared at home. That is changing en the new distribution of tasks creates tensions."
Not everybody is comfortable with it and some of the newer tasks may make us uncertain.
On top of that you have this culture in many companies where you are not allowed to make any mistakes. Because of that people allow themselves even less rest and reflection."
Of course companies hurt themselves because of it, for lack of rest is detrimental for creativity, says Odding. A little stress is needed to perform, but people don't get the best ideas when they are under stress. Oft that happens when they're walking or biking.
The folks at Google have understood that quite well, for employees of the company are allowed to spend 20% of their work time on 'nice things'. It has turned out that those relaxed times are the source of the best innovations.
The experience around stress and burn-out teaches that room for relaxing and recreating is also needed outside that one day a week. Which explains why at the moment there is an increasing interest in the Sabbatical.
More and more people after having saved enough to take an extended break, take a leave of absence for longer periods of time.
Often coming back to a scaled-down job on their own request taking a paycut they can live with, but acquiring a life style that is more rewarding. Often resulting in becoming far more efficient at what they are doing.
Stressed out people on the whole have a rather poor health record, which is the cause for many days lost at work.
The increase in 'road rage' in recent time is most likely another result of poorly functioning individuals due to high level of stress.
The real importance of the Sabbath, the day of rest needs the renewed attention of a much larger public. We may want to reconsider our Sunday openings in retail etc.
The price we are paying for this violation may slowly becoming too high.