“Rest and be thankful. ~ Wordsworth
Blessed Thanksgiving has passed and unholy Black Friday is almost over. Despite long holiday travel and lots of preparation, Thanksgiving is our prelude to winter, the true season of rest.
Our pesky ground squirrels took advantage of recent 13 degree days and went into hibernation two weeks ago. Non-resident birds disappeared south even earlier. Scientists have discovered that hibernating animals live longer, and why not…when a species doesn’t have to spend winter energy to find food, and to be strong physically come spring. It is too bad we humans don’t hibernate: Eating as much as we want to prior to months of sleep sounds fairly enticing!
When the snow falls, when power goes out, we are forced to stay at home and slow down at least a little bit. And if cold and holidays don’t provide for additional opportunities for rest, our bodies might demand rest by allowing colds, flus, and other illnesses to re-adjust our routines, to add important pauses back into our lives.
Nearly every religious tradition encourages taking times of pure rest. In the Jewish tradition this is called “Sabbath,” a complete break from all work. Christians also observe Sabbath, yet differently: one Episcopal priest calls Sabbath a time to do whatever you truly feel called to do and nothing you feel you “should” do.
Wayne Muller writes: “One thing I love about the Sabbath practice in most spiritual traditions is that it starts at a particular time, like the sun going down in the Jewish tradition or the sun coming up on Easter Sunday morning. The onset of Sabbath is usually tied to the sun or the moon something that you can’t mess with.” Or shouldn’t mess with. Thoreau took rest to a wonderful extreme. When asked one day why he was working on a Sunday, Henry David beamed back: “I work on Sundays and take the rest of the week off!”
Visiting the natural world is a perfect way to experience rest. Strolling through the countryside, fishing along the river, canoeing, snowshoeing, all are sure ways to lower stress, allowing us to “re-fill our wells.”
My friends, rest well.
“Every person needs to take one day away. A day in which one consciously separates the past from the future. Jobs, family, employers, and friends can exist one day without any one of us, and if our egos permit us to confess, they could exist eternally in our absence. Each person deserves a day away in which no problems are confronted, no solutions searched for. Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us.” ~ Maya Angelou