Putting my kids to bed on Sunday nights is always a little difficult. My youngest in particular hates to see the weekend come to a close, which often leads to extra hugs, kisses and delay tactics. Yesterday, at the end of the Christmas vacation, this was especially true. “I feel all mixed-up inside,” T. said to me. “I am happy to be going back to school, but sad that holidays are over.”
Our family really did have a great time feasting, making music, visiting with friends and family, and continuing our annual tradition of making cookie houses (or, in the case of T., a cookie fire hall). Yes, it’s a little sad that our holiday is over. But there’s more to it than that.
In the Christian tradition, we usually think of Sabbath as one day. Imitating the Biblical story of creation, we work for six days and rest on the seventh. Whether or not your day of rest is Sunday, Monday (like mine) or any other day of the week, it is a wonderful practice to aim for and cultivate. Although it is harder and harder to do in our busy world, a weekly discipline of relaxation and renewal can make us healthier, happier, and more productive.
Keeping the Sabbath in its fullest sense, however, is more than a one day observance. At its best, it can even become an entire week. Yes, even if we have a job.
Starting mid-week, there are several days to look forward to our planned Sabbath time: what will we do, or not do? Will it be beautiful? Delicious? Fun?
When it arrives, having a day just for resting–whatever that means for you–is fantastic. That is a day to soak everything in and be grateful.
This is how I try to help my kids make sense of Sunday night, or the end of anything for that matter. They had a great weekend, and we can savour that for a few days. Before you know it, it will be Wednesday and time to make plans for fun times the next Saturday and Sunday. Often what we perceive to be the end is really not the end at all.
That rhythm of anticipation, enjoyment, remembering, repeat is a great one for all of us. Not only does it take the sting out of endings, but it offers us a joyful structure to our daily living. It is a foundation based on the regular and healthy occurrence of rest and pleasure and it can apply to our weekly calendar or yearly vacation, to Christmas or our birthday.
Perhaps gardeners know this best because they are taught by the changing seasons. Summer came and went. But it was followed by a time for remembering last year’s adventures, looking through garden photos and eating the preserves from last year’s crop. Soon it will be spring and the glorious anticipation of all we will grow in 2013.
No, you don’t have to win the lottery to have an endless vacation. Just draw on the wisdom of Sabbath keeping: Anticipate. Enjoy. Remember. Repeat.