Posted by: Bobby Desulme | February 22, 2010

Enjoying a Sabbath

There was a time in my life when I looked forward to the weekend. Both Saturday and Sunday were days where I got the opportunity to have fun. When I was young, weekends were two Sabbaths for me. I still remember how peaceful it felt to wake up early on Saturday mornings simply to watch cartoons or play outside with my dog. After breakfast I would play street hockey with other kids on my street and then I would get ready for choir rehearsal which started at 2:00 pm. Choir rehearsals were entertaining because I got to sing and also spend time with friends from church.

Sundays were also peaceful. I would wake up and get ready to go to church and after church, I would eat lunch with my family. I reserved the rest of the day to do some homework and to play outside some more. During that stage of my life, the weekend was a time to rest: a time to enjoy life and to get away from work.

Nowadays, weekends look more like a time to catch up on work than a time to have fun and enjoy life peacefully. The only reason I look forward to weekends is because I know that I will have more time to myself to work on all the little tasks that I did not have time to work on during the week. When I wake up early on Saturday mornings, it is simply to make sure that I have time to do everything that is on my “to-do list.”

If I meet with people on Saturdays, it is not always to have fun. It has been a while since I played street hockey and I only sing once in a while in my shower. Even though I try my best to attempt a church service at least once a week, I have found my Sundays to be more consecrated to spend time studying than to spend time with God or with the ones I love.

Though what is described above is not uncommon for most of us who are not children anymore, it is nevertheless not the best scenario. One of the main things that I have been learning in seminary is the importance of self care and the need of a balance life for all clergy people. Clergy spend most of their time caring for others and providing spiritual services to those in need.

It’s unhealthy for people to spend so much time caring for others and neglect their own needs. We are not all rabbis or priests, but we still play an important role in the life of the many people we encounter every day. Some of us are parents, others are children and some are both. We are sisters, brothers, cousins, colleagues, friends and even life partners to the ones around us. Not taking care of ourselves can often lead us to hurt the ones that are close to us. Addicts, no matter their addiction, are not only hurting themselves, they often are a source of great anxiety for the people around them as well; no one is an island. We live in community.

The fourth commandment of the Ten Commandments found in the book of Exodus demands that the seventh be kept holy as a day of rest. Today, we are more familiar with the term Sabbath when mentioning this day. The Sabbath, according to the Hebrew Scriptures, is a day that God wanted people to refrain from working. The people of Israel were instructed to walk only for a certain distance and to only perform some very basic and necessary actions during that day.

The day also has the purpose of reminding us that God created the entire world in six days and rested on the seventh one. The main principle behind this commandment is the idea of rest. The Sabbath suggests that as human beings, it is important to rest and to allow our bodies to take a break in order not to overwork ourselves.

One of the first things that impressed me about the Christian Association’s house on 37th street is the meditation room. I remember entering it for the first time and thinking of how wonderful it was and how fruitful such rooms can be when utilized in order to rest and free the mind from the daily pressures. After spending time there more than once, I now know how important it is to rest and meditate as often as possible.

Our world today needs to understand the importance of rest and for our society. When I think about the children in many impoverished countries working hard to provide food for their families, I think to myself how they, too should have the opportunity to play with their friends like I used to when I was young. Our Iraqi brothers and sisters also need a break to enjoy life without having to worry about a bomb threatening to wound them or their loved ones. Even our US soldiers in Afghanistan and in other parts of the world could use a break to spend time around a dining table on a Sunday afternoon with their families.

During the next couple of weeks, I will make sure to make time to rest. I know that I need it and that it is important in a well balanced lifestyle. I encourage all of us to do the same and really respect our minds, spirits and bodies enough to allow ourselves to relax, enjoy life and, for those who enjoy it, even sing outside of our showers once in a while. And if ever one day is a bit heavier than the others, and you need time for yourself, I invite you to come by the CA’s meditation room to take a break and observe a Sabbath.


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