The Countdown

I'm leaving for vacation in two days. 

This means that the last few weeks have been nothing but a flurry of preparation.  A flurry I tell you.

Did you ever stop and wonder why you work so hard preparing to go on vacation that you spend the first two or three days of your vacation trying to recover?  And then when you get back, you work so hard you forgot that you went on vacation in the first place.  Oh, you've felt that way.  You bet your boarding pass you have, bucko.

I've traveled a bit, and I've made some observations about people who aren't Americans--particularly in the way they view work and rest.  Europeans don't work like Americans work.  I don't mean to say they don't work as hard (although you might get that impression if you are out trying to shop or visit a museum after 5 PM), they just work differently.  They believe in things like family leave, shorter work weeks, longer vacations...

People who aren't Americans tend to drive less, watch less TV and eat dinner with their families or friends on a more consistent basis.  And I don't mean eat dinner in a hurry, have some small talk and then rush off to the next thing.  I mean dinner.  I mean a long, drawn out, no-rush sort of thing that honestly used to be part of our culture, but now is a thing of the past.

We scoff at people who aren't Americans.  We call them lazy.  We hold it a badge of honor that we are so valuable to our workplace that we had to put in countless hours both prior to and following what limited Sabbath we take.

That's it, really.  We've lost an understanding of what it means to truly observe the Sabbath.  I read somewhere that in the ancient world Hebrew people were mocked and ridiculed for being lazy because they did not work on the Sabbath, and strictly observed a Sabbath lifestyle.  You worked seven days a week for long grueling hours if you wanted to survive in the ancient world.  To simply stop and do nothing was ridiculous. 

Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote this: "Time is like a wasteland.  It has grandeur, but no beauty.  Its strange, frightful power is always feared and never cheered.  Then we arrive at the seventh day, and the Sabbath is endowed with a felicity which enraptures the soul, which glides into our thoughts with a healing sympathy. It is a day on which hours do not oust one another.  It is a day that can soothe all sadness away." 

Imagine if we approached the Sabbath in this way---not just an observance but a way of life. 

Heschel also writes, "The seventh day is like a palace in time with a kingdom for all.  It is not a date, but an atmosphere."  Man, I love that.  I need that. 

That's what I want to feel---not just while I am "on vacation" but in my whole life.  I don't think I will ever not want to work hard---I love my work and I love that God has given me the desire and passion for it.  But I do need to understand what it means to fully rest, and to know that I am not defined by my work, I am defined by the One who led by example and rested from His. 



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