Sunday, January 12, 2014

Rest and Purpose

“Rest and be thankful.”

William Wordsworth

“Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.”

Maya Angelou

Activity and rest are two vital aspects of life. To find a balance in them is a skill in itself”

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Celebrating Silence: Excerpts from Five Years of Weekly Knowledge 1995-2000

Today I’m taking the day off.    After this blog, I’m not going to write or do a radio show or work towards any of my written or stated goals, except for the goal to take care of myself.  I’m going to see what the day brings.  The Chargers are in a playoff game and maybe I’ll watch that.  Maybe I’ll take a nap.  Or maybe I’ll take a drive up the coast.  Maybe I’ll go to Disneyland.  Maybe I’ll go to the bookstore.  Or maybe I’ll stay in my place and read and write, not because I’m trying to reach a goal, but simply because I want to do it. 
Today is Sunday.  Many Christians call it the Sabbath, but technically the Sabbath is from sundown Friday night to sundown Saturday night.  I’ve heard people say (and I was once one of them) that no one should work on Sundays, because it’s a day of rest.  But, as so often happens, the original intention of this principle was misinterpreted.  In the Gregorian calendar, the one most of the world uses, Sunday is the first day of the week.  God created the world in six days and then took a day, Saturday, to rest.  So, technically, Sunday isn’t the day to rest, Saturday is.  God rested on Saturday.
Now when the word “rest” is used, it doesn’t mean God was tired.  It meant that He chose to stop working.  He took the day to do something else, something different, something energizing.  We don’t know what.  Maybe He watched football or went to Disneyland or took a drive up the coast.  Maybe He went to a bookstore or took a nap or wrote a blog.  Did God need “down time?”  Probably not in the way we need it, but I’ve learned that if I want to be successful, I have to copy what successful people do.  This includes God.  So the concept of taking a day off is a good one. 
What specifically does this mean?  What should I do or not do?
The first thing I should do is lose the word “should.”  The principle of rest is not about rules.  Whether they are necessary or not, there are two problems with rules,
1.     Rules limit us.
2.     Rules invite the temptation to be bent or broken. 

The concept of the Sabbath was not to impose a limit, but to offer us freedom.  God established the concept, before the Levitical law (the Ten Commandments).  He was setting an example.  He rested because He wanted us to rest.   What does “rest” mean?
From I found this:
1.  the refreshing quiet or repose of sleep: e.g., a good night's rest.
2.  refreshing ease or inactivity after exertion or labor: to allow an hour
     for  rest.
3.  relief or freedom, especially from anything that wearies, troubles, or     
4.  a period or interval of inactivity, repose, solitude, or tranquility: to go
     away for a rest.
5. mental or spiritual calm; tranquility.

According to these definitions, it’s not just physical relief, it’s a mental, spiritual and emotional relief.  Rest is meant to give us an internal break as well as an external one.  Rest is freedom.  So the question isn’t, “What should I do or not do?” but “What would I like to do?”   Here are some other questions:
·          What would be fun?
·          What would feel peaceful?
·          What would help me feel good about myself?
·          What would feel physically good?
·          What would I look back on the next morning with fondness?
Yesterday, I spent some time with some friends.  I wasn’t planning on it and, in fact, I didn’t want to go.  I thought my time could be better spent being alone and writing.  It wasn’t long, however, before I realized how much I valued, enjoyed and even needed my friends.  I needed their laughter, their ideas and their presence.  And they needed mine.   I felt free and relaxed being with them.  I often talk about trying to make the world a better place, but sometimes I forget that I have to be in the world to make it better.  This doesn’t devalue the time or necessity of being alone to write.  It enhances it. 
Steven Pressfield wrote of an experience where he sequestered himself away for months to write his first book.  Perhaps that’s necessary sometimes.   However, I think I could get more done, if I do a little less.  I think I could get more done, if I do a little more for myself.  I’ve often said that the Purpose of Purpose is love.  This means love for God, for others and for myself.  I wouldn’t make my kids work seven days a week.  Why then do I think I should?
So today I’m going to Get Started and Keep Going...or if not today, then tomorrow.  I’m taking a break today.