Time for rest, reflection

Roots of Faith

 

 

In the movie “Modern Times,” Charlie Chaplin plays a factory worker with the tedious task of tightening bolts as they pass by on a conveyor belt.

The drudgery catches up with him when the shift changes. As Chaplin steps away from the belt, his arms continue to twitch in the same bolt-tightening movements. He goes crazy, using his wrenches to tighten everything he sees— including the large buttons on a woman’s dress.

Nowadays, leaving the job at quitting time can be just as difficult. Does overtime fill the evening? Do we bring home the disappointments and resentments of the day and continue to stew over them? Does the cellphone keep us tied to the office?

Homemakers and parents find their work is never done. Adults caring for their aging parents are exhausted after another day of tending to the medical and emotional needs of others.

 

 

Teens pile on AP classes and community work to impress college recruiters. Even children are over-scheduled with sports, play dates and enrichment activities.

Social media saps our energy with a nonstop feed of disasters and political rants. Some Facebook friends seem to thrive on the rush of leaping from one crisis to the next.

Summer vacations spent rushing around to different attractions, standing in lines or driving long distances leave travelers more tired than before they left.

We need a rest. But where do we find it?

After God created the universe, he rested for a whole day. Not because an all-powerful God needed recuperation but to set an example for humans; we need to slow down to re-energize our bodies and spirits through Sabbath rest.

God told the Israelites to keep the Sabbath (seventh day) holy and do no work (Exodus 20:8-11 NABRE). He even gave the farmland a rest. After planting and harvesting for six years, the land must be kept fallow for a year to allow the ground to replenish its nutrients (Leviticus 25:1-7).

But how can you rest for an entire day when you feel like you can’t stop for five minutes?

For starters, look at the family schedule. What activities can be dropped? Can family members share in the housework more to free up time for play? Can we say no to some of the demands of others?

Can employees negotiate for less overtime or simply turn off the cellphone at home? Can caregivers seek out resources and support groups to lessen their burden? Can we unplug from social media and place the troubles of the world into God’s hands?

Is our busyness a distraction from facing our own emotional issues?

The comic Ernie Kovaks lived by the motto “Nothing in moderation.” A better guide is “Everything in moderation.” Work and entertainment are good—in balance.

When Moses asked the Lord who would help him to lead the Israelites, God replied, “I myself will go along, to give you rest” (Exodus 33:14).

Jesus instructed his disciples to rest after they returned from their ministry (Mark 6:31). He also told his followers, “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Finding rest is an intentional act, although scheduling time off should not be seen as just another item in a long to-do list. But even brief mini-Sabbaths of prayer and meditation throughout the day can bring peace.

For the next vacation, instead of going to a popular tourist spot, consider traveling to a retreat house for spiritual renewal. After all, “What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?” (Luke 9:25).

Sally Carpenter is a member of Holy Cross Catholic Church in Moorpark. Reach her at sallyc@theacorn.com.