Lots of chocolate was sold with a TV advert promising that it would help us to work, rest and play. Were Mars onto something when they promoted those three things together?
Working from home or living at work?
Is this what we need in order to flourish? In the last couple of years work has become more changeable and, in many cases, much more demanding. For key workers there has been so much risk and exhaustion. For those who have exchanged the office for the kitchen table, it has at times been confusing. Are we now working from home or living at work?
The press here and in the States has used the word languishing to describe our current state. In psychology, that’s a sort of opposite of flourishing. It’s not a crisis but a feeling of flatness and disconnection. The New York Times referred to it as a state of “Meh!” I was reminded of some lyrics from a song by Sunrise Avenue:
“It’s like we’re stressing out,
To find some peace of mind.
It’s the story of our time”
Might we find recovery and reconnection when rest takes up its rightful place alongside work? This is what sabbath is all about. It’s a theme throughout the Bible, from the first chapters where God rested from the work of creation on the seventh day. It’s a reminder that we are human beings not just human doings!
The gift of sabbath
Could sabbath have something profound to offer as hope and gift? It’s a subversive practice in a culture that champions relentless productivity. It’s a period of rest – and play. The Bible talks of finding joy in the Lord.
What a great principle, setting aside time to rest, and to delight in enjoyment. A time separate and boundaried from work. While for the most part in the Bible the sabbath is 24 hours long (a day, or sunset to sunset), it is at times longer. The principle is more important than the length of time.
If a full sabbath might feel or be overwhelming or un-doable, in our minds or in the reality of life’s pressures, could we begin to step into sabbath practices, intentionally making space for rest and play?
5K to couch
The app Couch to 5K has been hugely successful in helping people build up to their first 5K run. Maybe we should plan a 5K to Couch? What might that look like? What simple sabbath practices might we embrace to rejuvenate us as God’s beloved human beings? A walk through nature with the phone left firmly behind? Delighting in something creative that we love but no longer make time for? A daytime nap? Gathering a few friends or family to just be or play?
John Mark Comer, author of The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, suggests that sabbath has four modes to it:
Stop – Rest – Delight (curating joy) – Worship (practising gratitude and love)
What might you build in the spaces where you can begin to use this ancient gift?
Words: Ian Macdonald, Discipleship Enabler
Lyrics to “Heartbreak Century” by Samu Haber, Victor Thell, Maria Jane Smith