Resting in Ancient Tradition

I love Saturday. It is the day our family chooses to rest, take a day-long break, catch our breath. No work, no “musts,” no agenda save for what will breathe renewal, delight and depth of living back into our too often workweek-wearied spirits. It’s a rhythm we hold sacred, a weekly cycle for reconnecting, a built-in pause that runs counter-culture to the go-go-go nature of our society. It’s a stopping to gain perspective, shutting down in order to open up. It’s a deliberate turning away from in order to have space, room and time to turn toward and remember what is most important, such as family, friends, community, God, nature, mind, body and spirit. It’s our family’s favorite day of the week, a holiday every seven days, our weekly anticipation and celebration of life and each other. It’s a whole day dedicated to following the footprints of the soul.

The practice comes from an ancient Hebrew tradition called “Shabbat” or “Sabbath,” which is a period of rest and spiritual enrichment every seven days. While we are not Jewish, we have found the practice profoundly helpful as have so many, including those outside the realm of traditional spirituality. The academic world of colleges and universities offers a “Sabbatical” for professors, one year off for every seven they teach, giving them a break for study, travel and writing. New perspectives, knowledge and a recharged spirit have proven advantageous when reentering the classroom. Farmers and vineyard owners have learned the value of regular cyclical breaks for their lands, rotating their crops and allowing bits of acreage to “rest” every seven years. When reentering the planting season, they find that the rested lands produce more abundant crops at harvest time because of this intentional pause. And we all learned in school that the regular periods of dormant resting times in the plant and animal worlds are essential as well, whether as a caterpillar in its cocoon or a seed in the ground. Shortcutting that rest proves deadly to the organism, but allowing it time for quiet space produces life.

Whether butterflies or blossoms, kids or adults, the same is true: we all need intentional periods of rest, apart from nighttime sleep. Times of respite and renewal allow our minds and spirits, relationships and soul-moments to grow and go deeper, producing more beautiful and abundant lives for a more beautiful and abundant world. It’s a practice worth practicing, and for the Badger household, indispensable. If you stand close to our house on Friday afternoons you will no doubt hear a collective sigh of relief and delight go out from it, for we know tomorrow we rest. Finally! The smiles deepen and thankfulness is repeated to the ancient ones, and the Ancient One, who created and kept this tradition alive for our most crazy-scheduled modern here and now.

Whether you see yourself as faith-filled or practical-minded, or a combination of both, I encourage you to give this practice a shot. For one day in your regularly scheduled week, set homework projects aside and forget household chores. Your student will not fail nor will your world come to an end. Let joy and delight take center stage as you rest and renew, reconnect and recharge, remembering that you are a human being, not a human doing, here for a purpose that goes beyond accumulation or accomplishment. Take a bike ride together, bake cookies for your neighbor, read a book and share new insights, serve in the community, lend a hand to someone in need, meditate, stroll down the Drive, nap. Rest, renew, reconnect, remember. You just might find the value of this ancient tradition is not so ancient after all.

Community Paper | Footprints of the Soul

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