|What would you do,
how would you be if everything were done? What if you could
be with friends or family without feeling like you were stealing the
time from something you were supposed to do or something you started
but hadnt finished? What would it be like to have a day with
NO list of things to do?
If this sounds like a bit of heaven, that is how it is meant to
sound. The way to get an immediate taste of this is to BEHAVE AS
IF it is true. There is something very powerful about the rhythm
in the creation chapter of Genesis. All the work of creation is
done in six days and the seventh is a day of rest, a day of respect
for the natural rhythms of life, a day to be set apart and made
Holy, a Sabbath.
This may sound simple or easy. I found it very difficult to do.
I had integrated the value and pressure of work through my years
of owning the book and resource store, Stiles For Relaxation. When
I took time off there was a nagging sense I should be
doing something else. Today there continue to be so many choices
and so many competing demands for how to spend time. I tried taking
a Sabbath day here and there but nothing worked with consistency.
When I am visiting my converted Orthodox Jewish daughter and her
family in New York, I do as they do and observe the Sabbath. Here
in Portland, Im not in a community that holds that value.
I have seen the weekend as a time to do different things, but I
had no reason to not be doing work as well. In fact, I felt no freedom
from work. There was always something more that needed to be done
- professional work, house or yard work, shopping. A to do
list constantly circled my head.
In 1999, I finally had enough desire and enough courage to keep
the Sabbath on Sundays. In terms of work, I see Saturday night butting
right up against Monday morning. Sunday just does not exist for
work. Sunday is my freedom day now. I keep it for time with family,
friends or a worshipping community, for time to read uplifting and
spiritually inspiring books, for naps, for being in nature, for
luxuriously long meditation and prayer times.
I keep it free of work, of shopping, of anything on my to
do list. It is a day to taste the sense of completion. I behave
as if there is nothing I need to get done. It is a glorious day
for me now. I want to keep it. I have to guard it carefully from
my working ways and from the culture around me. Many temptations
and rationalizations come up in my mind. I have to be very clear
and very intentional. Keeping the day set apart is very much like
mindfulness meditation. As temptations come up to distract me or
to do work, I notice them and let them pass through my mind. I return
my focus to what the day is about for me.
Interestingly, I find I get as much or more done during the week
with less burn out. I know Sunday is coming and on that day I experience
what it is like to have the weight of my doing lifted off my being.
I breathe fully and joyously. I enter a different experience of
time. Instead of rushing, I am lingering. Instead of moving to whats
next, I am appreciating the moment. I slow down and feel a deep
gratitude for Life and for the people I now have time to enjoy.
What a blessing!
Putting this practice solidly in my life has been one of major
benefits for me of the Lighten UP philosphy. In the Lighten UP classes,
I teach about the value of the Sabbath in ones life to support
the process of making changes and honoring natural rhythms. Another
way the teaching impacts my life and helps others is in understanding
and valuing ourselves in our own unique processes. I have developed
more compassion for how I function - what works and doesnt
work for me. While my load has been lightened in my external world,
it is my internal world that is experiencing the most benefit.
Oralee Stiles is a Spiritual Director, leads womens and
mens spirituality groups, is coproducer and host of PrimeTimers,
an AT&T cable television show and teaches Lighten UP classes
with Ellen Montgomery and Marzenda Stiles McComb. Call 503-288-8058
for further information.