Hilary Blake continues her summer series on completely impractical ways to change the world. Because there are so many good people and organisations talking about practical solutions to the world’s problems. Just for a change, let’s give ourselves permission to think smaller, simpler, and less practically.
We need to rest. Everything needs to rest.
All animals rest. Even flowers close up at sundown. Cycles of activity and rest run all through nature, and we are no different.
Beyond literal sleep, we may need to take a break in a variety of ways. It might be time outside, seeking out wilder spaces. A friend of mine has a digital sabbath – she doesn’t use the internet for a day each week. Perhaps it might be a day off your car each week. What would be a good sabbath for you?
In the Living Lent campaign, the Joint Public Issues Team of churches in the UK suggested having an hour off electricity each day. When I thought about it, that seemed hard (I think it’s meant to be an hour when you’re awake!), so I chose a different Lent discipline – buying nothing new.
In the Bible, the law of Moses treats times of rest and recreation as socially important. The Sabbath and the Jubilee aren’t just for individuals, but for everyone. Communities and institutions, business and politics – everything needs to pause sometimes, and find perspective and new energy Perhaps the nearest we get to this social Sabbath is the customary office closure over Christmas, but then it can so easily become a fraught time of year in other ways.
The natural world is included too. Sabbath and Jubilee principles apply to the earth and to animals as well. Recognising that helps to remind us, on a regular basis, that the natural world is not ours for the taking. It has a life of its own, with its own needs, and its own value in the eyes of the creator.
Sabbath rhythms are helpful for our own wellbeing, and a good practice to share with others. Can you find a meaningful Sabbath that brings you into closer relationship with those with whom you share this earth?