Monday, June 1, 2009

Doing nothing

He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul. –Psalm 23:2 (RSV)

On the seventh day he rested from all his work. God blessed the seventh day. He made it a Holy Day because on that day he rested from his work, all the creating God had done. Genesis 2:2–3 (The Message)

In March my youngest son, now age 24, had an honest-to-goodness, real spring break. Instead of playing baseball like he did for the past four years, he went to Florida and spent a week doing little more than sitting on the beach, watching the waves, and unwinding. When he returned to Pennsylvania, he said, he was “amazingly relaxed.”

I envy him. I could use a real vacation, too.

Now, I work out of my home, so you’d think I’d schedule my vacation whenever I want. It doesn’t work that way. I feel guilty if I take time off while my husband’s working. Coordinating our vacation days doesn’t work, either. For the past several years, they’ve been spent watching David play baseball, visiting our out-of-state daughter, which usually means helping her out wherever we can (translate: work), or catching up on stuff that needs done around here. And being a baseball groupie and visiting our daughter means hours and hours on the highway. NOT relaxing. NOT fun.

My husband saves several of his vacation days for hunting season, and I always promise myself for every hour he’s in the woods, I get to spend curled up in a comfy chair, reading. But I never do. I’ve become my own slavedriver.

The word “vacation” comes from the Latin word vacare, which means “to be empty.” My friend Webster defines it as “freedom from any activity; rest.” Too often what we call a vacation is anything but.

The last time I remember having a real day of rest was one Christmas years ago when Dean took the kids to his grandmother’s for the afternoon. I never moved from my chair. I didn’t read, didn’t watch TV, didn’t listen to the radio, didn’t think, didn’t talk—I did absolutely nothing. And it felt good. When he returned, I was relaxed and refreshed. I could get a lot of mileage out of doing nothing for a spell.

Doing nothing is good for you. Honest. Not making it a lifestyle, understand. Just taking that day of rest once a week that the Good Lord said to take.

For the first several months of this year, I felt spent, mined out—in every way, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually. I lacked energy and drive. I’d been running on empty for far too long.

So a month ago I took a day off at the beginning of the week. I slept in until 9 a.m., then sat on the back porch in my jammies for the rest of the morning, watching the sunlight filter through the budding trees, the lone daffodil at the edge of the woods bob its head in the wind, wispy clouds float across the azure sky. I spent the rest of the day moseying around—and not allowing myself to feel guilty about it.

I felt rested, rejuvenated, recharged. And I was more productive the rest of the week.

Too often the only time I take a day of rest is when I get sick. And then, I tend to not give myself adequate time for the rest my body needs to get well. Rest not only enables me to get better faster, it also helps to keep me from getting sick in the first place by bolstering my immune system.

There’s nothing wrong with doing nothing. Because when I do nothing, I’m really doing something: relieving stress, gaining perspective, and recharging my spent batteries.

So I don’t have to run on empty.

Help me, Lord, to have a true Sabbath once a week, just like You ordained. Amen.

Special-Tea: Read Psalm 23:1–3

No comments:

Post a Comment