Faith Matters: Creating a Day of Rest

  • The Rev. Linda Rhinehart Neas with her decorated mail box. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Rev. Linda Rhinehart Neas cuts flowers in her South Deerfield garden. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

  • The Rev. Linda Rhinehart Neas at her South Deerfield home. Staff Photo/PAUL FRANZ

Published: 7/31/2020 2:42:20 PM

During quarantine, physical distancing, and anti-viral protocols, we are forced to stay connected via the internet. However, screen time on our electronics is causing many people more stress than they realize. Researchers and reporters worldwide are offering advice on how to deal with this sudden increase of internet use.

Those addressing this subject generally agree that we should set up a time or times when we put away the electronic devices. A common suggestion is to turn off electronics two hours before bed, especially for children.

After reading many articles on this topic, I realized we need to return to the tradition of having a sabbath.

Sabbath (also spelled sabbat) comes from the Hebrew shabbath, which means, “day of rest.” In the Abrahamic religions, a day of rest revolves around gathering for prayer and community. This tradition is, however, also found in many other faith paths.

Theravada Buddhist observes a day of rest every seven to eight days in order to “cleanse their minds.” The Cherokee people rested during the new moon, what they called “un-time.” Wiccans celebrate eight sabbats that are evenly spaced throughout the year with Samhain in October being the first of the year.

In fact, until recently, people worldwide participated in periods of rest from their daily chores and duties. Here in the U.S., when there were Blue Laws, work was suspended on Sundays. Sunday was time for church, family and rest of minds, bodies and spirits. When the Blue Laws were rescinded, many people used the weekends to shop, play sports, and relax with loved ones. As a result, church attendance dropped. Some people still attended church services, but only for an hour or so; then, it was back to business as usual. Many people no longer have a designated time for “resting.”

We should reconsider reviving this tradition of a sabbath. First, this respite improves our health. We need to rest our minds, get outside (even if we can only go into our own yard) and move our bodies. In doing so, we create time to connect to the Divine, however we imagine.

For those with no faith path, there are many ways to create your own “day of rest.” A friend shared the idea of a Sabbath box. In this box, you literally or figuratively place items that do not allow you to rest. I know being without a cellphone is akin to falling off the face of the Earth. You can simply check your phone at various times during the day to make sure there are no voice mails. Then, the phone goes right back into the basket if there are no pressing matters. Inform those in your circle that you will be off the grid and only responding to voice messages in an emergency.

Another idea is to write down the things that are stressing you. You can make an actual list or write things down as they come to you throughout the day. Being mindful: by writing them down, you are releasing them into the Universe. This also gives you the opportunity to look at them as an observer, rather than a participant. Burn your list at the end of the day, asking that you be relieved of these worries.

Once you have set the time and day of your sabbath, the importance of letting those in your life know that this is your time off, must be stressed. This can be difficult for some, especially if those around you are used to your being available anytime they need you. However, being firm and gentle about your day of rest, almost always works. Soon, those you care for will become used to the new schedule.

Whether you take a full day off or only an hour, make it worthwhile. Sit in nature. Take a walk in the woods, or along the shore. Read a book. Write some poetry. What you do is not as important as doing it and being mindful that this is your time.

Breathe deeply, stay safe and enjoy the rejuvenation a day of rest/sabbath can bring.

Rev. Linda M. Rhinehart Neas is an ordained interfaith minister, having graduated from The New Seminary in New York City. She often fills the pulpit in local Franklin County churches. She maintains an international online ministry through Facebook. Rev. Neas can be reached at revlindaneas2013@gmail.com and https://www.facebook.com/revlindaneas/




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