Sundays are Spirituality Day here at Taking it To the Streets
“The Sabbath is a powerful concept, and if we allow it to be it’s a powerful experience. To “observe” the Sabbath means to dedicate one day a week to harnessing our spiritual energies, to dropping our otherwise continuous preoccupation with ultimately unimportant things. Particularly now, harnessing our spiritual forces is important if we wish to be true receivers and extenders of the love that heals the world.” – Marianne Williamson
I love Marianne Williamson. Like her books. Like seeing her in person. And I love being a fan on her Facebook page as I get tidbits of wisdom like this one every day. She makes sense to me.
And the concept of a Sabbath – taking a day out for spiritual pursuits – makes a LOT of sense to me. A few years ago I read Wayne Muller’s book Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in Our Busy Lives and just loved it. It’s a whole book dedicated to the principles summarized in Marianne’s quote above.
I spent part of yesterday and part of today with two different very dear friends, both working moms. Their lives seem to be whirlwinds of activity – kids, work, husbands, chores, pets, groups, tons of time in the car, phones ringing, meals to be cooked, laundry to be folded. It made my own life with 60 hour work-related weeks (40 hours of working, 20 of commuting) and various duties, seem luxurious by contrast.
So I get it when people’s reaction to the idea of taking a day of rest is “Yeah, right!”. Like – when will the school projects get done, the garden get weeded, the kids laundry ready for the week at school, etc. etc. etc.
“I don’t have TIME to rest!”
But I remember when I had an out of control job – one of the more stressful periods of my life. My friend Ralph and I used to go for a walk at lunchtime once a week – we’d walk over the rose gardens in Grant Park, past the Buckingham Fountain, along Lake Michigan. A bucolic break amidst a hectic, stress-filled job and crazy days. I would often tell poor Ralph “I absolutely CANNOT go for a walk today – i have WAY too much to do!!” – with all that urgency as conveyed here with caps and exclamation points.
And Ralph would say, “Ah, it is then ESPECIALLY today that we MUST go walking.”
And he was right. For an hour by the lake with the wind and the roses and the waves lapping on the shore of Lake Michigan put the emails, the bosses, the power-wars and deadlines into perspective. It exposed them for the mirages they were, reminded me to be here now, and to get back to what is really real. Or, as my 85 year old neighbor Fanny used to say “Your chores won’t run away from you.”
So what would life look like if you took one day a week, or even an afternoon, or morning, or evening – and devoted it to BEING instead of doing? To truly relaxing with no electronic friends (no TV, Internet, texts). Maybe meditating, sure. But how about just playing with your kids. Walking the dog. Taking a nap. Talking (really talking) to your husband/wife/partner/best friend. Laying on the grass looking at the clouds (no, not now in Chicago – even us hardy Norwegians think it’s too cold still to enjoy that in March). Riding your bike. Staring out the window and watching the squirrels. Just BEING.
My friend Mary, a creative genius if ever there were one – and also a working mom – was bemoaning how much sleep her body needs – seeing it, I think, as a waste of time – time, in which, one assumes, she could be writing. I said – what if the sleeping is where the creativity comes from? What if it is indeed the wellspring? Then, wouldn’t you welcome it and ask for more?
I think our lives are like that. We forget, so quickly, that “to everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.” A time to slow down. That part – that’s what we forget.
I’m reading a book now (you’ll likely here more about it on Tuesday) by Steven Batchelor, Buddhism without Beliefs. The central tenet (at least thus far) is:
“Since death alone is certain, and the time of death uncertain, what should I do?”
I don’t think the right answer is probably “another 10 emails” or “watch a mindless sitcom” or (in my case) “how about another 10 rounds of mah Jongg?”
If we feel that the purpose of LIFE is to do more, more, more and to have more, more, more, then I suppose one would answer Steven Batchelor’s inquiry with a flurry of activities as the best answer.
But watching my friend die so young and so quickly didn’t make me want to do more, or pack more activity into life in case it is short. It made me want to live as fully alive as possible – to go full out at joy and delight. And I think it is the fallow periods, the timelessness of being that is the wellspring from which deep creativity and productive delight comes.
Do you take a Sabbath in any form? I’m not talking about church/temple/mosque – though that may be part of it. I’m taking of a day of rest. Of looking inward and into other’s eyes, not into computers/TVs/shopping malls. What comes up for you when you think of “honoring the Sabbath”?