What if the Real Act of Holiness Is Rest?

After all, that is the Sabbath’s chief requirement.

Comments: 187

  1. Great blue herons are the source of mindfulness; they stand alone until they suddenly take flight; motion at rest; stillness in flight. As ever Margaret Renkl takes for a walk in the slowly wafting air of the rural South, blessing us with subtle memory and lyric voice. Miss Ollie's rest on Sunday has meaning still.

  2. @FWS and what did any of that have to do with resting after a hard week of labors?

  3. @FWS Your first paragraph is spot on! But, your second fails in that the only significant incursion into the North was at Gettysburg, property wise, and there was no goal of imposing their vile way of life on US! They just wanted out!!!

  4. Thank you, Margaret. In my adult years I have felt the physical and emotional need for "Shabbat" — a period of resting, reading, reflecting. It's not just a commandment in the bible, it's a principle of the cosmos. I'm only sorry for those who are not able to rest because of work and family. Perhaps there is a Shabbat waiting for them somewhere, somehow.

  5. Thank you for a beautiful essay, Ms. Renal. Stillness and quiet are a blessing. I'm glad your great grandmother gave you reason to pause and appreciate.

  6. I am the first to suggest a hike in the woods, or, generally, taking some leisure time, but it should be any day of the week one’s schedule allows, not the arbitrary day of Sunday. This article suggests it is a "holy" day, but I would posit that, while a year is a scientifically accurate length of time in accordance with seasonal cycles, a week never existed until people labelled those days as such. Further, I would ask the author of this religious piece to examine the evidence that holds up her beliefs. Saying some god determined a 7-day period by which we break up time neglects that the book in which she places her faith was written, rewritten, translated, retranslated, and this is the important part, by people.

  7. @Steveyo I don’t think this was a religious message. It was delivered through the optics of her grandmother’s that were religious. I think she is simply reminded us to rest and take in the joys of the world whenever possible. Have a beautiful day.

  8. And I would that you not disregard a text that has been wrestled over yet sustained over thousands of years. There is/are ancient truth(s) here, whether or not you believe in God. Of all the things to argue over, the author’s piece highlighting the need for a day of rest is most relevant this day in age and does not threaten anyone’s view of science.

  9. @Steveyo, did you read the entire article? Near the end, the author says that the day of rest can be any day, not just Sunday. She quotes the scripture which directs observers to work six days and rest on the seventh, pointing out that no particular day is specified. Sure, there’s no scientific reason to divide the astronomical year into 7-day weeks, but without some kind of observance of schedule, the day of rest becomes whenever you feel like you can afford it, which is basically never - the situation in which many of us find ourselves, and the whole reason for this op-ed.

  10. Thank you, Margaret for this timely reminder. Just yesterday I was thinking of things I could get done during the week to allow for more rest time on Sunday. For years I have tried to honor the day of Sabbath by not reading emails or engaging in work, but somewhere along the way I got sidetracked. It’s now time to get back to on track and use this day for quiet reflection, rest, and quality time with loved ones.

  11. Even the notion of taking a day of rest seems foolishly naive, when we think about our unending list of tasks to get done, and the limited hours available to do them. But we are hungry for permission to do just that. As November approaches, the campaign to not patronize stores that are open for shopping on Thanksgiving will be popping up all over social media. So, perhaps that's a good sign, that at least on one day, we are willing to step away from our public life and just "be" instead in constantly "do."

  12. @Chiordella What would be the point of a campaign? If you don't want to shop on Thanksgiving, don't. Others can decide for themselves as individuals, just as you can. A campaign would only make it look as if some people are threatened by others' choices.

  13. The commitment to just be, to not fill every hour with work or busyness, is an exercise in humility. The world will not crumble if I take a day to rest. I learned this late in life. I am reminded by Wayne Mueller’s book, Sabbath, that it’s a commandment, not a suggestion. We all may not be guided by this, but it’s an interesting discipline to honor a day a week and see what happens, whatever the motivation.

  14. It’s not just rest during the week that Americans are missing: it’s also extended time off from work. Europeans famously get far more (paid) vacation time than Americans — and they by and large take it, while studies repeatedly show that Americans in large numbers surrender vacation time to which they are otherwise entitled. Why? Fear of being replaced, essentially. America’s worship of capitalism extends even to sick days. As flu season approaches, we will start to see the inevitable news stories about how much in lost productivity sick days cost American business, as though that is the yard stick by which all considerations should be measured.

  15. @EWood Yes, Europeans marvel at how Americans are willing to forgo most vacation time and are considered lucky if they have even a few weeks once a year (that they are able to take.) Of course they also marvel at the fact that most Americans don’t consider healthcare a right either. As to the impossibility of one regular day off a week, I have found that in even medium sized towns in some parts of France, the various bakeries have each a different day of the week they close, so no one has to do without their “daily bread.” I believe there are similar arrangements and acceptances of businesses being closed for the long late summer vacation. It can be mildly inconvenient, but everyone accepts it as a humane way of living.

  16. @EWood Agreed. Then also, there is the endless merry go round created by current household structure (all adults working) and the expectation that young and older people's schedules be completely filled. Whether we choose to attend religious services, enjoy our families and the natural world, or just rest at home, Renkl brings an important perspective to our lives.

  17. I am fortunate to have enjoyed a childhood with a mother so much like yours. I marvel at how she got three children dressed for Sunday School and church (my father was her solid ally), come home for a feast where every delicacy had been prepared the night before, sit down for food and conversation and then nap or take a walk. Work really was for other days. No matter the stress of school or work, Sunday was an interlude, a time of peace and quiet. Who can really say the pressures of those days were less than today? I like to imagine my parents reaction to anyone checking their emails or Facebook page at the dinner table. Good manners and mutual respect were de rigueur. Conversation was uniformly civil and light-hearted. I have my dear mother's Bible-King James version-and almost every page has passages underlined and words pencilled in the margins. I spend Sundays at church, read the Sunday papers, take the family out for Sunday dinner, rest and relax. It's a wonderful lifestyle. Thanks for taking me back to some priceless memories.

  18. Every evening at 9, I quilt. Rocking my needle is a meditative practice of sorts, and it quiets my mind before bed. A few weeks ago, I bought a nice reading chair in anticipation of Sunday afternoons in January, when life is quiet. After a quick walk on a windswept beach, I’ll come home, make tea and sit and read (your book is on my list). I only have one day off a week, so I value this time immensely. We all need this.

  19. While I have never taken a full day off, I do meditate everyday. It is so important to let you body and mind rest. Being in the present, breathing and being calm is such a gift.

  20. As a Jewish person, I find your framing of this alienating and domineering with its sole focus on Christianity. You talk only about Sunday as a traditional day of observance, and refer only to "church" in terms of a need (or not) to go to a house of worship. As you know, the commandment to observe the Sabbath was brought to the world by the Jews and -- news flash -- our Shabbat observance extends from sundown Friday to after Sundown Saturday. And other traditions have their rest day observances as well. I deeply regret your lack of inclusiveness. Not particularly helpful in a time when so many people try to maintain their cultural dominance rather than being open to the values, traditions and practices of a diverse population.

  21. I’m Jewish too and I think you didn’t read the entire piece. Ms. Renkl references her upbringing which is Catholic therefore by tradition her Sabbath is Sunday. She specifically says the Bible does not say which of the seven days is the Sabbath. I thought it is a thoughtful op-ed that can apply to anyone who rests on the seventh day, no matter what that seventh day is on the Gregorian calendar.

  22. @SD I too am a Jew and observe - and celebrate-Shabbat. I found this piece lovely. The author was speaking from her tradition and it takes nothing away from ours.

  23. @SD But the point is … God made rest, too. Nothing exclusive in that. The writing about the subject is from Hebrew scripture, a part of which is read each week in Christian churches throughout all of America.

  24. The day of rest is one of the great gifts of the Jews, now rejected by many. I read once that it is called in that religious tradition the Queen of the Week, which I love. A day of renewal. My husband and I tried to keep the day special when our children were young, attending church and doing family activities later. We still do this with our grandchildren. It's sad that, as Ms. Renkl writes, that folks today are unable to rest, relax and worship (if they wish) even one day a week.

  25. By not resting regularly, by not going for a walk in the woods or spending a day by the water, we contribute to the ecological crisis. As Wendell Berry has said, you won't love what you don't know. Our endless time spent in front of screens, in cars, and managing the tasks of life, means that we have increasingly lost our connection to Mother Earth. In 2019, the earth is calling us to slow down and take notice of her - for our good and for hers.

  26. To slow down in this age and culture is a gift from heaven. Heaven can be described in many ways but just spending a day, the Sabbath, or Sunday for Christians is often better spent in nature on a walk. I was once a Catholic who spent more than just Sunday in church at Mass or simply taking stock of my day, or life in a quiet place. I have left a memoir of the churches of the world that I have been in. Blessed with means of travel to many countries. But in my own childhood learning of my faith, never did I think my own daughter could not join me in the pew. And that is why I no longer take my energies to any written religion that looks down its nose at gays and people on the margins of life. I have my Sabbath in other peaceful moments on Sunday.

  27. This beautiful article gives me a lot of peace, but it also gives a sense of the chasm that exists between the modern world and the generation that is still fresh in the memories of many of us. Paragraph 10 accentuates that chasm because it really is the 10th Commandment that specifically addresses the seventh day as the Sabbath. You have to be a stranger to the Bible not to see mistakes like that.

  28. @solohoh Your thought of the chasm is valuable, between our times and generation(s) and those earlier. Different bibles number the commandments differently. In my tradition, it's the third commandment that directs us to keep holy the Lord's day. Regardless of the translation we favor, the important thing is to honor the day and give ourselves the rest and perspective that honoring the day gives.

  29. Both my Bible and the one shown in the picture accompanying the article have Exodus 20 listing “Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy” as the fourth commandment. Still, beyond the first two being, according to Jesus, of the greatest importance, the numerical order would not seem to be of great importance other than as a point of pride about biblical familiarity, would it?

  30. @solohoh No, it’s the third commandment.

  31. Spirituality is calling us to "come away." After a certain time of necessary labor our souls require quietness and rest just like our bodies. That rest can be a short time set aside every day for prayer and meditation to center us and ready us for the work we're trying to accomplish. But better than that is a Sabbath that we anticipate and prepare for and honor once a week. Things can get hectic trying to fit working and playing and shopping into our days and still getting a full night's rest. At the end of the week a quiet day is necessary.

  32. Thank you. Your words always help fan the spiritual spark I am finding more and more needs to be lit.

  33. When I took visiting relatives for a walk around Radnor Lake, I noted different responses from different people. One extreme was my niece, who was enraptured and barely spoke. The other extreme was my sister-in-law, who regarded the entire circuit, from bumpy roads to wood-chipped climbs, as a form of physical torture. One heard the birds and saw the sun glittering through the trees. The other saw poison ivy and talked about ticks. We all look at 'rest' differently. Some of us are most relaxed when we're active. Others read or simply loll, or reminisce about long-gone people that they loved. It isn't a religious experience. It's life.

  34. @KJ I have wonderful memories of walking around Radnor Lake when I visited a dear friend , now deceased. I thank the author of this essay for bringing it back to my mind. Nashville in March was enjoying spring much earlier than it came to Massachusetts.

  35. When I was a child growing-up in the 1950s and 60s on Long Island, there were "blue laws" that prohibited most retail businesses from being open. My father was a butcher in a chain grocery store and was off every Sunday. I recall those days fondly. When the blue laws were being repealed in the 1970s, my father was apoplectic and went to his supervisor and told him not to schedule him on a Sunday. Period. Somehow he managed to work until 1982 without working a Sunday. Today I wonder whether the blue laws were repealed because they were remnants of a more religious culture and, like prayer in school, they were unconstitutional---or whether the greedy capitalists conned us into believing that people wanted to shop 24 hours a day 7 days a week. The amazing part of this story is that my father's longevity and loyalty to his company seemed to have some value as his "bosses" worked with him to keep his Sundays restful until his retirement. Today, Sunday seems to be the busiest day in Long Island grocery stores. Shall we bring back the blue laws?

  36. @Richard Winkler Absolutely not. No one person wants to shop 24/7, but different people want to shop at different times within that 24/7 period.

  37. To some of us holiness is work. Nothing is more spiritual than doing a good job, even if it's as non-physical as writing. Indulging mind and body in a wholesome effort is the supreme. It is well said in Tolstoy's "War and Peace" when he describes the act of a member of the aristocracy working with the peasants harvesting grain in a field - inspirational.

  38. @eclectico But balance in all things.

  39. When I think about this ever-increasing climate crisis, I do try to slow down. Not take so many errands in the car. Not purchase as many things I don't really need. The same thinking that got us into this mess cannot get us out of it. The thinking that got us into this mess was not slow. We need slow now. We need to embrace contemplation and quiet in order to rest and recover our world. May it be so.

  40. As an atheist I support “down time”. A time to contemplate rest and rebuild whatever day of the week you please. The notion that it’s spiritual is fine with me just don’t tell me what spirits they are. The world needs rest from the everyday.

  41. A few weeks ago in his sermon our pastor spoke on the very theme of slowing down and resting. Our talented musical director and his even more talented wife treated us during the offering with Simon & Garfunkel's 59th Street Bridge Song, which opens with the admonition to "Slow down, you move too fast..." And Jesus reminded us that, well, maybe helping great-granddaughter with a bit of sewing technique on the Sabbath wasn't a sin. The Sabbath was made for us humans, not the other way around. But the ancient Hebrews' wisdom recorded for us goes much deeper than even that. The Sabbath of the Land, where a field was to lay fallow every 7th year, is still recognized as a best practice in sustainable agriculture. Our modern industrial farming practices might yield more per acre in empty calories, but not in terms of flavor or nutrition. So thank you for reminding us of this wisdom!

  42. Another beautiful and informative article by Ms. Renkl. These days, life seems to be going a million miles an hour - two sometimes three jobs are worked just to the most basic of needs; there's school and homework and caring for older parents who are ill or need help with groceries, laundry, or simple conversation and company. There's always more that needs to be done than there are hours in a day or week. I think Ms. Renkl hit the nail on the head with when she quoted the Bible so eloquently, "the seventh day is the sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work.” Whatever day happens to be "the sabbath" in one's life, so be it. A lot of folks I know have split days off. They don't complain because A job is better than NO job. What's really key is to stop for a day or perhaps even a morning or afternoon and enjoy and appreciate what is around - a spouse or kids or extended family or the beloved Fluffy or Sparky the dog or cat. Relaxing, appreciating and enjoying LIFE one day a week truly helps rejuvenate one's mental and emotional batteries. And those of a religious faith, giving thanks to their God for what they have is also beautiful.

  43. what if your day of rest doesn't align with your neighbor? this was somewhat noted in the article as no set day. Sundays sometimes are the only catchup days one has with yardwork. Saturdays are rest days for others, but traditional yard errands for most. hopefully people understand schedules are different so time for contemplation varies by user.

  44. I remember my mother, now 88, telling me how excruciatingly boring Sundays were for her as a child. She couldn't use a scissors which were one of the few implements in their home. Isolated in the country, there were no playmates, no books, radio was not allowed on Sunday. Her family worked 14 hour days the other 6 days a week during the planting, growing, harvest season and so for the grown ups Sunday was a welcome repreive. Fast forward to 2019 and I see her grandchildren struggle to unplug from digital stimulation. In addition, addiction to work is the last socially acceptable addition. Our ever changing environment presents challenges to the human condition that require us to constantly examine the choices we make.

  45. There are people who still take Sunday as a day of rest and worship! Our family sees this as the best day of the week. My husband and I are highly educated professionals with 3 kids. We all go in a million different directions Monday through Saturday. On Sunday, though, we hit the pause button. We attend church, and spend the day resting and enjoying each other...rather than yet another day of Target/sports/laundry/yard work/emails/play dates. We see the 3rd commandment as yet another of God’s gifts to us...not “we have to keep the Sabbath”, but “we get to keep the Sabbath”!

  46. Wonderful piece, because it made me think. Whenever I am looking for answers to questions, I know that the morning for me is the best time to find answers. Knowing that simple fact got me through grad school. This morning, it was finding a title for something I am writing. I couldn't find the right word last night. I found it this morning. A day of rest every week recharges people. It's good to be bored, for one starts to think. Lord knows we need more of that.

  47. No, rest is not "an act of holiness." It only appears that way to people who are being worked to death by a ravenous capitalism and its incredibly unhealthy, imbalanced commercial culture. Spiritual practice requires energy, focus, and enthusiasm; rest is a just a means to end, providing a rejuvenation of the forces we need to engage life at its highest levels.

  48. Spiritual practice also requires submission, humility, and listening to the voice from the quiet. It’s very American to say that it can be reached through “energy and focus” alone.

  49. The Genesis account of creation builds into human life the necessary rhythm of work/rest. An old friend told me the story of when, during WWII, he was foreman in Michigan's large River Rouge plant which was building planes seven days a week for the war effort. He made sure the people under him did not work on Sunday and his workers produced more than any other area of the plant.

  50. @Ruth Van Stee What about the people whose preferred day of rest was Saturday (or some other day)?

  51. Thanks for the reminder, Ms. Renkl. People are not built to work without resting, and we function best, from infancy, when we acknowledge and honor the seasons and rhythms of life. In addition to the Jews who observe Shabbat, there are also Christian churches, such as many churches in the Reformed tradition, that still teach and practice Sabbath observance. It was new and strange to me when I first began attending such a church many years ago, but I see the wisdom in it now.

  52. Many years ago a rabbi taught me that one of the overarching themes of Sabbath rest is to leave Creation alone. We can do and busy ourselves with changing God's creation, but on the Sabbath, just leave it alone.

  53. The notion of the "Sabbath" as a day of rest is a latter-day reinterpretation of the original tradition from the pre-Biblical Hebrews who in fact viewed it as a day for enforced worship, with the punishment for failure of observance being, as with so much else, death by stoning. No surprise that the infamous "Sunday laws," continuing in some parts of America from the colonial period through the early twentieth century, were often as draconian, except in place of stoning one was hanged, beaten, pilloried, or simply thrown in jail. All things considered, a charming tradition, and one religious folk should learn the history of before touting as a benign and peaceful practice. Like all things religious, it is steeped in blood.

  54. @APH So, stripped of what you call its bloody past, is the religious tradition of the Sabbath as a day of rest, or as an attempt at codification of the natural rhythms of life, a good idea?

  55. Thankyou again Margaret for another beautifully written article. I recently finished reading your book and I recommend it unreservedly to all those who enjoyed this article. Nashville, so far from my home, is becoming very real and precious to me....it is such a pity that some commentators miss the spirituality of the author's thoughts and observations, how closely she brings us to nature and our connection to it. It is so easy to take offence and become outraged at anything these days....and so difficult to see past those things to the real world we are all part of. Somehow Margaret helps to take me there....thankyou again Margaret

  56. If everyone who could, took half a day or even a few hours off each week for complete rest--what might happen? Would we make better decisions, relate to and enjoy each other more, or find that we could be happy with less? Perpetually running at full tilt for years on end, whether forced by employers or circumstances, or willingly, is probably at the root of the recent decrease in life expectancy in the U.S. Anyway you get there, it can change the way you look at the world, those around you and yourself. And nobody says from their death bed, "I'm sorry I took a day off every week!" Nobody!

  57. I am not religious, but I can say that many of the mornings I have spent in some of our country's (albeit more liberal) churches, have been wondrous for the simple opportunity to reflect, gentle my judgments of others and myself, quiet the rapidfire questioning and doubts in my head, and feel, at the very best of times, inspired to do more good in the world. That all said, religion has all too often been the root of the most terrible evils in our world - and even as we seek quiet, we should do so holistically and circumspectly, with our eyes wide open. In a wonderfully memorable example from this summer, the deacon of the local congregational church, in more intimate chapel services, gave a sermon before the 4th of July, reminding us that even though our founding fathers said that all men are created equal, they really meant all male white landowners. He exhorted - challenged - us to do our best to strive for genuine equality to truly celebrate the 4th. THEN we sang Our Country Tis of Thee.

  58. The very last sentence of this essay commending rest as a way of, if not to, life’s deep reality, provided, at least for me, the fullness of rest in a moment of presence and loveliness, all by itself. There are ways of being at rest, I’ll bet, that are experienced through presence and release of self, maybe on set-aside days and maybe not on these. Though the Sabbath may well be the Lord’s day, I’m not convinced that the others aren’t ... and that work, in the sense of activity regardless of kind, can’t be sacred when offered in charitable love as such. This is not to say that physiologically speaking, the body doesn’t need rest in the usual sense ... say for metabolic recovery ... because it does; though this doesn’t and can’t happen in a vacuum.

  59. Thank you so much for your column. I look forward to it more than any of the many I read in this paper. They help me feel good. And quiet. The things you write about are so important to me. I love reading the words of others who feel the same.

  60. Although at the time it wasn't always fun, I now miss the Sunday sabbath my family kept when i was growing because for that one day the dehumanizing cogs of consumer capitalism seemed to grind to a halt, and for a bit life wasn't defined by what we bought and consumed. As others have noted, what a difference that was from the relentless 24/7 world of today I grew in Memphis, in the 60s, in a liberal religious family (we were Presbyterians), with church in morning and evening, and a big meal midday followed by a nap. One Sunday afternoon, bored and needing to do something, I worked in our yard. I was so proud to show my parents what I'd done. When they woke from their nap, in nearly the same breath, they thanked me but also told me that we didn't do work, even yard work, on Sunday. They only reluctantly let me go to a movie with the church youth group on a Sunday night (they were surprised a church group would patronize a business on Sunday), and on many a high school Sunday night I stayed up to midnight to begin homework. In part, we wouldn't consume so that others would not need to work. It seemed a bit extreme, and as blue laws disappeared, we did more and more in the commercial world on Sundays.

  61. To some, certain types of toil are relaxation in themselves. An entire, particular day need not be devoted to relaxation. Time can be spread out throughout the week. I find it quite relaxing to sit on my back deck and enjoy the quiet when it is only disrupted by the birds or rustling leaves and the other sounds of nature. Too often though, that relaxation is disrupted by the incessant noise of humanity, unmufflered motorcycles, boom boxes, slamming doors, gun fire, leaf blowers and lawn mowers. The very reason we need wilderness is the incessant affront humanity places on Mother Nature.

  62. @John Warnock So well said, John. Thank you!

  63. @John Warnock - Gosh, John. Gunfire? I hope it’s that you’re near a shooting range:-(

  64. While in this very secular age it may not be legally possible to mandate Sunday business closures, i for one would agree to them for community reasons: this 24/7 economy of ours is simply not healthy for anyone: everyone needs a day of rest to recharge and possibly reflect - and it would be wonderful if it was the same day for everyone (well except for restaurants, gas stations, essential services, small stores....few would ever suggest we close everything down!!). I remember Sunday as being a very special day when our whole family would go out camping, hiking, or just out to a picnic: it was restful and delightful!! Dad didn't even do overtime work on Sundays: it was a Family Day. Alas, i fear this will not happen in many places again, but if it does (for human and not religious reasons, of course!!!!), i for one will not be complaining.

  65. @Joseph Ross Mayhew: I agree completely. But it need not be the same day for all businesses; if they choose different days, there can always be a restaurant and a gas station in or near every neighborhood.

  66. All that is asked of us is that we pay attention to The Miracle - Every. Single. Moment. Now, and now, and now… Easy to say, enormously difficult to accomplish…

  67. My spirt is always uplifted when I see your columns in NYT, and that's even before reading them. Thanks.

  68. Taking a day off from one's work allows a person to rest; to repair; to reflect. Whether a person ceases work for a day out of pious respect for the Almighty, or to respect the needs of one's body to recover from a week of work, the act of resting a full day brings many people to a place where spirituality and religion intersect. And I think this is the part of the Sabbath that Margaret is contemplating. "What if resting, all by itself, is the real act of holiness? " Right there might be the essence of what a sabbath day is. I don't consider myself to be religious; I belong to no mainstream denomination or sect. But I do consider myself to be spiritual, as I believe we all are to some extent. One's spiritual needs are met by seeking and finding comfort in any number of ways. That comfort can derive from reading scripture, or meeting with others to worship, pray, and discuss matters of faith. Quiet time alone for meditating and achieving some peace of mind in our harried world works for others. For me, communing with nature via a walk through the woods, or around the lake helps me. Intellectual search and fulfillment restores my inner needs (I sometimes think that the public library is my church), and I'm sure I'm not alone in that way of thinking. Thanks again, Margaret, for sharing your fond memories of your great-grandmother and for thoughts today. Your column always helps me start my week with a smile.

  69. Thank you, Ms. Renkl, for yet another lovely look back at earlier times. I've always liked your writing style, but you make such good use of it to involve readers in your reflections on the past and to give new meaning to our lives. It's such a pleasure to open the Times and see a new column from you.

  70. This is so sad. That anyone believes they need an invisible force to tell right from wrong, good from bad, and that there are silly extraneous rules they must follow in order to be decent people. Everyday, I thank my lucky stars that my parents didn't force religion on me, and I didn't force it on my children. We participated briefly, but as adults, after thorough consideration, all of us chose not to subscribe. We are good, kind people who can stand on our own feet without being held up by others who say they believe what we believe. That is the test. Can you go it alone? Most religious people can't. Sometimes, religion reminds me of sports teams, with team songs, team colors, team cheers. And, it takes up Sundays, in just the same way. It's just sad.

  71. @ChesBay I think you mistake "religion" (extraneous rules) for faith, for relationship with God. We are not meant to "go it alone" - we are meant to be community, loving one another as the Creator of all loves us. The "rules", as you call them, are simply the way by which we find the greatest happiness, the greatest peace, because we are living true to our humanity as it was made to be. The author here describes a beautiful, peaceful day. If you don't long for that peace, that is, of course, your choice. But her choice is not a sad one - it brings a joy unknown to those who have never pursued it. While it is true that many (all) of us who claim a faith fail to live it ideally, when our eyes are opened a bit more, this is reason to be glad, not sad.

  72. @ChesBay Why would good, kind people find it necessary to badmouth other people's lifestyles and personal choices? Can not those who live lives guided by spiritual considerations also be good, kind people?

  73. @drmaryb -- Faith is belief without evidence. You can waste your time on that if you wish. It's guaranteed by our Constitution. Still sad.

  74. I am not troubled by the fact that this article does not reference Jews or their tradition. The author correctly assumes this to be understood by the reader, for his/her own interpretation. Nothing is taken away from the positive message conveyed. When people seek good in their spirituality, as they see fit, it is positive.

  75. My wife and I walk on the UNC campus in Chapel Hill on almost a daily basis weather permitting. It is a beautiful sylvan place with ancient trees, wide green swaths of immaculately kept lawn, and birds, squirrels and, my favourite, chipmunks making a living. It’s distressing to me however how many of the kids who attend the university spend their time walking to and fro to class or wherever, with their heads buried in their cell phones, not noticing the almost surreal beauty around them. They apparently don’t realise that this is precious time in their lives to experience and appreciate “the beauty of the earth” as the hymn says. Most of the most will all too soon be ensconced in careers, child rearing and all the concerns that go with adulthood. As to your precious Ollie, my wife, who is 62 and grew up in Canton, Mississippi, had a similar nurturing grandmother, Annie Laurie. Her beneficent influence has been profound throughout her life. You’re very lucky.

  76. When people begin setting priorities by looking back, instead of forward, it shows a nation in retreat. Need I say more?

  77. @Sharon I don’t understand what you mean. Taking rest and doing a little contemplation is out-dated? Surely not especially these days.

  78. Only 60 years ago in the town of 30,000 Ohio where I was raised, businesses were only open a half day on Saturday and were closed on Sundays. It was assumed that merchants needed the weekend off, and that customers did too. I think that there was a liquor store and gas station that kept longer hours, but downtown was closed. So people spent time with their families, and at church. I always have felt that we gave something away in calling it convenience when commerce is always running, and we are always running towards it.

  79. In a world that is increasingly 24/7/365, it is more important than ever to cherish those days off whenever they occur, even to intentionally take a mental health day if someone or something rare and attractive crosses your path. Humanity no longer needs religion to justify it. We had the need before religion and we'll have it after we realize that man is the measure of all things and that the well-being of every single person is justification enough for all we do, day by day.

  80. It is sad to read so many comments here that reject the notion of a day of rest because that concept is recognized as a religious tenet in the Judeo-Christian heritage. Yes, religionists have perverted the Sabbath concept, in the same way that the Pharisees of every generation twist faith to suit their own ambitions for political and economic power. But there is basic truth in humanity's, and all of Creation's, need for a regular rhythm of work and rest, whether or not one believes that Sabbath command was spoken to Moses on Mt. Sinai. I happen to think that the ancient Hebrews, so close to the land, instinctively knew that they would survive and thrive on the land by giving themselves and the land some time off once in awhile. Let's not let the failings of the messenger (organized religion) obscure the truth of the message.

  81. My wife and I were in Paris and Nice for almost three weeks. We noticed a higher percentage of retail stores closed on Sunday in Secular France than in the US

  82. NAPS. Naps are a prayer and balm for the body and spirit. Highly recommended.

  83. A day of rest can takes many forms. We usually take our longest walk of the week on Sundays. And of course as multiple Sunday papers. But yesterday I also cleaned two bathrooms. I find that sort of work therapeutic. My husband changes our bed every Sunday; he does not regard it as a chore, it's a ritual of a fresh start to the week. And a nice dinner-- sometimes with our adult son, often in the dining room-- is a weekly must.

  84. I grew up on a dairy farm. The cows didn’t take any days off. Neither could we. This particular aspect of piety is easy to mock, so I won’t. But this aspect of piety has always been pretty unrealistic for many.

  85. Under Jewish law you may always violate the sabbath to save a life, prevent suffering, etc. Our great great grandparents in the shtetl milked on shabbos, because to refrain would be cruel to the cows. Likewise feeding them. But it’s not the day to fix the fence (unless to do so will save a life, such as if a calf is stuck in it).

  86. Is there a formal sabbath day, biblically speaking? According to the Jews whose God ordained it, it was on a Saturday. Despite Constantine's shifting it to Sunday to help secure converts amongst pagans, and to further differentiate Christians from Jews, many European languages remain witness to the change: Sabato, Sabado, Samedi. Notwithstanding the semantics, I have to agree with the writer. A day of rest is a good idea. Mindful meditation, placing one foot in front of another with intention and with awareness for ones surroundings, in appreciation of the experience of life and all living things, is a true blessing. No prescriptive commandment is necessary. It is not something to be undertaken out of fear but out of free will, love and joy.

  87. @Roger C the Biblical Sabbath is not taken out of fear, but out of joy and thanksgiving.

  88. @Leland Seese A commandment is not a request, it is an order. All the biblical commandments are reinforced by the sanction of judgment in the after life by a jealous God. Worship and praise, rather than joy, is eschatologically intrinsic to the biblical sabbath as the writer's grandmother clearly illustrated sitting there with her bible eschewing the joy of participating in a hobby with her granddaughter. My mother in law would do the same. She would sit in her room, the drapes closed holding her bible. It didn't look like joy to me. It was comfort at best.

  89. “the sound of a lone cricket …Its song was as beautiful and as heart-lifting as any hymn.” That should be a revelation right there. Absolutely we should slow our hectic lives down – even take a day off if we can and recharge our batteries. But you don’t need all of the religious baggage to justify it. Just do it because it is physically and psychologically fortifying. You do it because you want to take charge of your life rather than to give up your personal agency to some Big Daddy in the Sky. To do so just takes all of the courage out of it. The world would be a much better place if we refused to surrender our personal power to superstition and fantasy, if we had the courage to admit this stark reality: that ourselves and other people is all we have. We - human beings - have to get the job done: we have to solve climate change; we have to rebuild our infrastructure; we have to make sure our environment is protected; we have to make sure our government is fair and just and working for us. Or – we can choose to fool ourselves, and just pray and hope some supernatural power intervenes. The song of the cricket works as well as a hymn – and it has the added benefit of being real, not an illusion.

  90. I'm always happy to see Ms. Renkl's column. This one, as per usual, is beautiful.

  91. @RMS Yes, beautiful. As I go into retirement I value things so much less and just being so much more. Being present with myself, friends enemies and all the rest. And those with whom I disagree I find it much more easy to listen to and understand. It is very good to be reminded it’s ok to take it easy and let go for a while

  92. The “tell” here is your age. Not all, but many of us pass 55, start moving into our 60’s, and want to rest. Some fight it. Some keep pushing because they have no choice, some can’t let it go for some psychological barrier. Not me. I got lucky, Part time at age 57. Retirement at 61. Often, I walk around the lake, swim in the pool, avoid air travel. Slow down. It’s worth it.

  93. Speaking of fantasy, I wonder who -- what abstract "Christian" -- those who blithely mock or size up my faith have in mind when they declare the Biblical Sabbath to be motivated by fear or some kind of theological fascism. Ms. Renkl's description of her own rest is, perhaps, closer to the Biblical Sabbath than her grandmother's. The Lord's rest, as described in the book of Genesis, was that of an artist sitting back simply to enjoy Their creation. And that is its purpose for us: joy and thanksgiving.

  94. This is a lovely and important piece for our 24/7, mercilessly plugged-in age. I hate to be "that guy," but I do feel the need to object to the lack of reference to, and apparent knowledge of, the Jewish tradition. First, there is a day of the week designated - "Sabbath" doesn't mean rest, it means seven, so the day of rest is the seventh day of the week. Though the current names for the days weren't in use at the time, when they were adopted, the first day of the week was designated as Sunday. Christians changed the day of rest to Sunday at some point as they emerged as a separate entity from Judaism, both to distinguish themselves from Jews, but mostly because Sunday was the day on which they believe Jesus rose from the dead (the women went to the tomb "on the first day of the week"). Second, failure to acknowledge the Jewish roots of the sabbath reflects the more general sense that the church superseded the Jews as God's people, which, of course, has resulted in all kinds of horrible stuff to this day. I realize the point of the piece is not the origins of the sabbath, but at least a passing reference would have been in keeping with its otherwise thoughtful and wise reflections.

  95. @James Hanson In Hebrew, days of the week lead to the seventh day, Sabbath. Sunday is yom rishon (first day), Monday is yom sheni (second day) and so on to Friday, yom shishi, sixth day.

  96. I am surprised to read so many comments that criticize the author for being not inclusive or for “peddling” Christianity. The author is writing about her own life, her memories, her family, her social and geographic background, her religious upbringing, and how her traditions can be applied to her life in the here and now. Not only is this not wrong, but it is the only way to be honest. How each individual reader applies this to themselves, or not, is entirely up to them!

  97. @Shield Amen!

  98. I’ve often thought that when Catholic priests preached about this .... easy for YOU to say, Father Whoever. Who is going to make your food on Sunday? And serve it? And clean up afterwards? Who is going to take care of the kids or grandkids or elderly in our homes? I’m still feeling resentful about it all at age 70. Sorry to rain on this parade.

  99. I have heard that many crave an opportunity to rest “guilt free.” Of course we need that. Which is why the Lord gave us Sabbath.

  100. Many people, not just my fellow Jews, say that Shabbat is the greatest gift of the Jews to civilization. The Jewish notion of Sabbath holiness, though, is not mere idleness, but noncreative engagement, through communion with family and friends, through festive meals, song, prayer and, yes, rest.

  101. Admirable faith but confused theology! The Sabbath is Saturday, the seventh day of the week; the Fourth Commandment of the law of Moses is hewn in stone! Jesus recognized the Jewish Sabbath. He endorsed the principle of setting aside a day of rest, as a convenience, but he ridiculed the sanctimonious observance of it. There is no direct scriptural authorization to observe Sunday as the Christian day of rest, only a vague reference to some early Christians gathering on the "Lord's Day", which might have been Sunday. Sunday is the special day of the Roman sun god, as the name suggests. When the Emperor Constantine decided to adopt Christianity as the state religion of the Roman Empire, he convened several councils to resolve theological differences and extinguish religious dissent. The day of the pagan sun god was conveniently adopted as the Christian day of rest since it was already observed as a special day in the Roman Empire. Our calendar has been tampered with and reset many times, and weeks have been padded with blank days. Observance of one of the seven days of the week has lost relevance. The day of rest on Saturday or Sunday, and Easter Day on a Sunday, are calendrical, not spiritual. But then, religious theology has always been specious argument with no significant outcome. So, observe the day of rest on any day of the week you find convenient. Like the elderly lady in Ms. Renkle's post, you'll derive the benefits, and God doesn't give a fig about your theology!

  102. The author’s discovery of the essential nature of resting on theSabbath is central to Jewish belief through the centuries and is still practiced rigorously by Orthodox and most Conservative Jews. It is an old and revered practice in Judaism.

  103. Questions: (1) where did the week come from? The year comes from how long it takes to go around the sun one time. The month is related to the moon's cycle. But why is there a seven day week? It doesn't relate to any physical event like the year or the month. (2) The original observers of the sabbath were the Jewish people. They observe it from sundown Friday to sundown on Saturday. How did it get changed to another day?

  104. @Paolo The Jewish Holy Day Sabbath changed from The Seventh day (Saturday) to Sunday (the first day of week) by Roman emperor Constantine when he became Christian to ease romans assimilate with christianity. Sunday was romans’ holy day with their paganism of Sun worship. Also they didn’t want to worship on the same day as Jewish people for all the reasons and conflicts that are still going on thousands of years later..

  105. -- the sabbath day is God's gift of time to us, time to focus on the blessings He has given us, on His love, and yes, to rest from the cares of the world --

  106. The commandment to observe the Sabbath also requires letting your servants, livestock, and immigrants/visitors rest as well. In Deuteronomy, the rationale is that the Israelites were slaves in Egypt - so they and everyone else have been freed by God and are to take one day a week to be free and equal. So a true Sabbath observance requires seeing that others can rest as well.

  107. The comment "I can't afford to rest" is the essence of the Sabbath question. God said to Israel, "Will you trust me? Will you trust that at only 6/7th the productivity of nations around you, I will still provide?" He then went on to declare Sabbath rests for the land every 7 years. The essence of Sabbath was only recovered by the Puritans who recognized the spiritual principle in the commandment and the proper emphasis of the Sabbath provided by Christ- that Sabbath was a gift to man, not a burden. We'd be right to relearn this lesson. Thanks for the reminder.

  108. Ms. Renkl: I really enjoy your columns and look forward to the days they are published in the NYT.

  109. Sadly, this is not really a possibility for many in America today. The reason is simple. We are no longer "all in this together." Now, you are on your own. Try taking a "day off" if your very survival depends upon the money you may ear. Worse still. Try raising two special needs children and find there is no "grandma." Obey the Sabbath is a great idea now, as it was in antiquity. The problem is that if advertisers and employers and neighbors who want to drive to soccer games don't agree, you may find that you will be crushed by the legions in the traffic jam of getting "ahead." P.S. Another rule was "love thy neighbor," Do you even know your neighbor now?

  110. Certainly freedom includes the right not to keep somebody else’s sabbath. Whither free will?

  111. What a lovely editorial. It's amazing how small moments in our childhood resonates. Mrs. Ollie Mims reminds me a lot of my devout Catholic grandmother who also "rested" on Sundays with her Bible in hand. The only way I diverge from Margaret Renkl is that I don't think her great-grandmother or my grandmother was resting in an ordinary sense. I think both women were "working" on their faith and devoted their day to intellectual and spiritual growth. My grandmother only has elementary education, and her daily life was consumed by paid and domestic work. Her Sundays were her opportunity to become a theologian where she would go to mass, look up the Biblical passages in her Bible, and think about her place in the world and the way she should live. Perhaps this is the real cost of losing our Sabbath: the loss of time for working and poor people to step out of their immediate concerns and to think about how in God's grace we are all as big as the universe.

  112. For Christians, it is not difficult to visit a hiuse of different prayer, insofar as their common denominator is a belief in 1) divinity of Jesus, and 2) Holy Trinity (or Quadrinity, as the case may be). Much more difficult would be to reconcile Christianity with Judaism to the stage of primordial monotheism before the great schism was finalized from the 1st to the 4th century CE. As far as the text of the Ten Commandments is concerned, in whatever language, one may replace there the name of God with "Eternal Morals". I do so as an adherent to the Manicheans' and Cathars' faith in life as Eternal Struggle of Good and Evil.

  113. For Christians, it is not difficult to visit a hiuse of different prayer, insofar as their common denominator is a belief in 1) divinity of Jesus, and 2) Holy Trinity (or Quadrinity, as the case may be). Much more difficult would be to reconcile Christianity with Judaism to the stage of primordial monotheism before the great schism was finalized from the 1st to the 4th century CE. As far as the text of the Ten Commandments is concerned, in whatever language, one may replace there the name of God with "Eternal Morals". I do so as an adherent to the Manicheans' and Cathars' faith in life as Eternal Struggle of Good and Evil.

  114. Six years ago, I joined a synagogue. I had not gone to a synagogue since my brother's Bar Mitzvah in 1975. Due to my retail manager work schedule,I don't get many weekends off. When I do have a Saturday off I attend services and the kiddish meal that follows. The feeling of calmness,peace and a bit of joy that takes place on those Saturdays stays with me well into the next week. I may do a few errands after services,but then I come home to nap,read,take my dog for a long walk,just taking time to relax. I guess that is now referred to as "self care". Whatever it is called,it is definitely needed in our current culture.

  115. From ‘The Sufferings of Lewis and Milton Clarke (1846)’: Q: How did slaves spend the Sabbath?— A: Every way the master pleases. There are certain kinds of work which are respectable for Sabbath day. Slaves are often sent out to salt the cattle, collect and count the pigs and sheep, mend fences, drive the stock from one pasture to another. Breaking young horses and mules, to send them to market, yoking young oxen, and training them, is proper Sabbath work; piling and burning brush, on the back part of the lot, grubbing brier patches that are out of the way, and where they will not be seen. Sometimes corn must be shelled in the corn-crib; hemp is baled in the hemp-house. The still-house must be attended on the Sabbath. In these, and various other such like employments, the more avaricious slaveholders keep their slaves busy a good part of every Sabbath. It is a great day for visiting and eating, and the house servants often have more to do on that than on any other day. Q: What if strangers come along, and see you at work ?— A: We must quit shelling corn, and go to play with the cobs; or else we must be clearing land, on our own account. We must cover up master's sins as much as possible, and take it all to ourselves. It is hardly fair; for he ought rather to account for our sins, than we for his.

  116. Yes, the Bible does say that on the sabbath day we shall rest. It even includes all of the following in Exodus 20:8 you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. Rather a progressive view of taking a break to extend the courtesy to the women, slaves, livestock and aliens. No wonder that commandment never really caught on.

  117. @Susan So the "progressive view" entailed the courtesy of giving a day off to their slaves, but not the courtesy of freeing them. Interesting.

  118. Wrong! You can do all that other stuff on Sunday afternoon. The kind of faith you’re suggesting is faith in yourself. That ain’t faith.

  119. This is a beautiful and thoughtful article. I must point out one simple factual error: "Nothing in the third commandment identifies which day of the week should be the Sabbath." Exodus 20.10, part of the same fourth commandment, makes this clear. In fact, "sabbath" is simply a rendering of the Hebrew word for "seventh." The creation story makes this clear: Genesis 2.2-3. Yes, we can take "sabbath" any day of the week, but there is much to be said for having the practice protected by the weight of ancient tradition and by a visible community.

  120. The world will still be there on Monday. In X number of years, you will not. How do you want to spend the measure of your days? Even to a Deist like me, the Sabbath is holy.

  121. No religion. Yes rest. The worst day of the week in my childhood was Sunday. Why? It was a day of guilt, listening to things I couldn't understand, yet was expected to abide. Do not expect someone intellectually abused every Sunday morning to feel good for the rest of the day or the week for that matter. Give it a rest and you'll truly get the rest you need.

  122. Resting for a whole day (or 2) is a prerogative of privilege. For those who must work 2 or even 3 jobs in order to pay the rent and feed themselves and their children, the rest may not be a whole day and may only be a nap. Check out Tricia Hersey's Ministry of Naps which is spreading the word of rest as resistance and liberation.

  123. @Mary-Jo As the author stated: "There are many, many people for whom this kind of Sabbath is not an option. People who work double shifts — or double jobs — just to make ends meet, truly can’t afford to rest..."

  124. Sweet reflections, Ms. Renkl.

  125. A common denominator of all Christians is a belief in divinity of Jesus and the Trinity (or Quadrinity, as the case may be). This makes it easy for those of one of the christian denominations to visit a house of prayer of another. It would be a no-go to try and bridge the great schism in primordial monotheism between Judaism and Christianity that was finalized since the 1st to 4th century CE.

  126. Whose Sabbath Day should be remembered? Why did an allegedly omnipotent omniscient deity need a day rest? So that She could clean and cook and wash while her daddy and hubby wielded the remote watching whatever on Friday, Saturday and Sunday?

  127. Great points. But the overwritten last paragraph belies the "restful" message of the article. Why the need to include seven plants and four animals in one short paragraph? Did you really see a blue heron (grounded, no less!) as well as a deer and its fawn in one walk?? We get the message; the outdoors is beautiful and your obvious knowledge of wildlife is impressive. But please don't complicate your writing -- and the peaceful image of the outdoors-- with a ton of references.

  128. @patalcant I feel sorry for anyone who can find something negative to say about that beautiful last paragraph. Of course all of those things can be seen and certainly were seen in a walk around Radnor Lake. And knowing what they are and reveling in them only adds to the sense of rest.

  129. @patalcant Sorry you've never been to Radnor Lake. It contains all these examples and more. You've critiqued this piece like a writer, better to read it like a reader. I loved it because it gave us a respite from endless coverage of Donald Trump.

  130. @patalcant come visit Radnor Lake and you will understand. I went once and spotted deer, a bunch of wild turkeys and an owl in one short walk.

  131. Kind of ironic that the “religious”-republican party systematically takes away working peoples leisure time.

  132. "Nothing in the third commandment identifies which day of the week should be the Sabbath" - that's exactly right, because the FOURTH commandment specifically states that, "......the SEVENTH day is the Sabbath." The author's traditions and warm memories are fine, but let's at least get the Scripture references correct. Sabbath is sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, simple and plain.

  133. Exactly! I was waiting for some mention of how Sabbath is the seventh day of the week (SATURDAY) or how The holy Sabbath the seventh day has changed to Sunday by Romans when they became Christians because Sunday was their holy day or even a mention of 7-day creation story of how God rested on the seventh day or thousands of years old Jewish tradition but nothing! And instead she states how bible never mentions which day is supposed to be the seventh day, obviously not even reading the next line of commandment.. how odd and ignorant..

  134. I wonder if anyone here remembers that poignant vignette in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House in the Big Woods” where Laura is both punished and comforted by her father for “breaking the Sabbath?”

  135. @Nancy I was thinking about that very moment in the book, when I read your comment. Thank you.

  136. On Sunday we would load up our young kids to drive 10 miles north of town to visit my in-laws on the family homestead. Southern Baptist to the core...the kids and I wanted to go out in the field to pull peanuts, but Grandma would not allow it.... neighbors might see us and think we working rather than having fun family time! I miss them.

  137. If you accept the biblical account in Genesis, indeed God created the weekend. TGIF (Thank God It’s Friday) is all Him. The Sabbath is indeed about rest. It’s actually what the word Sabbath means. And though its origin is mostly associated with the Hebrews/Jews, I think it should be noted that the Sabbath (the seventh-day) was given at the end of the six-day creation. It was given before the Hebrews/Jews/Moses/Ten Commandments. It was given before everything imploded. So in a perfect world, before anyone was ever overworked or mistreated, God seemingly celebrates the completion of His creation (like a birthday). Rest is just not necessary because we’re beaten down from hard labor. We can rest to simply pause for reflection and celebration. The Sabbath is the first Holy Day in the Bible (Genesis 2). In English we combine the words to come up with holiday. It’s interesting that most holiday observances are patterned after the original one—no work, coming together as a community/family, and great food!

  138. Nice piece: but I'm wondering--did they even have the concept of a week (7 days) when the bible was supposedly written? Wasn't the original year at one point 10 months?

  139. @William 7 day week is an anomaly that is only explained from Creation. It is not associated with lunar, celestial or observable physical phenomena. And yet the Persians, Babylonians, Indians, Greeks and Chinese all had 7 day weeks. The length of the year is unrelated to the length of week.

  140. @Jim I'm not so sure about this. The slightly greater than 28 day lunar cycle divides pretty well into four 7 day quarters, marked by the new/waxing half/full/waning half phases of the moon.

  141. @Jim The origin of the 7-day week is astronomical. The number seven dedicates one day to each of the visible "planets," in the original sense of "moving celestial bodies": Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. As each was a deity, the seven day week commemorates seven major gods. Our English names for the days of the week preserve something of this.

  142. I find it interesting that the concept of a day of rest or a nap resonates with so many, but so few comment on the aspect of it that seems most important to me. While physical rest is important for may reasons, the freeing of your mind from it's daily obligations is in my opinion equally necessary. This time is what allows us to not accept the sound byte philosophy that surrounds us, and give a deeper more contemplative look at how what we believe is right and wrong align with how we live. Thinking about our choices, our lives and the situations that our world presents us with in an environment that doesn't require us to "wrap this up" and get to the next thing is important. It is all too easy to accept the convenient answer when time pressures pile up. Whether we do it for religious reasons or not, I believe we all could benefit from taking some time to "look at ourselves in the mirror" of an unhurried mind.

  143. As a Jewish person, I read this piece avidly, looking forward to the hand extended in kinship to we who established this practice - and got nothing. Not one word of acknowledgement. Are you so limited in experience, reading and interaction with others that you have no clue whatsoever where this practice came from, and how many Jewish people have been renewed by it, as well as suffered for it? So much of how this is written speaks directly of our practices and philosophies - so much that I wonder if you didn't consult some of the vast Jewish shabbat literature. What are we, chopped liver?

  144. @Bohemian Sarah . . . I am sorry that this article didn't include the history of the Sabbath. I think, that the intention of the article was to emphasize that we rest, whatever persuasion we may be. And, sadly, growing up Baptist in the mid-west, rarely was our Jewish heritage mentioned. The Bible had been coopted into the teachings. I apologize for all Christians, even though, after all that Bible thumping, I now consider myself agnostic. And find rest in knowing, I just don't know.

  145. @Sarah Oh my. We Christians know we are only grafted on your root. We know that we continue to learn from you all the time. As a Sabbath observing Christian I am indebted to you, the examples you have set, and often lean on your traditions in my practices and my family life. I imagine that the author’s similar respect was implied. Sorry it wasn’t more explicit.

  146. Blessings to you, friend.

  147. Just love this. I grab my Sabbath in little bits throughout the week because I can’t give a whole day to it. I guess that intention is the key.

  148. That was a lovely article and story. The ability to stop and think and reflect upon the world around us is a blessing. Now, this will be odd. Thank you so much for writing about something besides President Trump. There are other things in life - especially the time to think and just be at rest., whether it be biblically based or not.

  149. While I was raised Catholic, the Catholic church has been a vague blip in my rear view mirror most of my life. Even though I turned out to be a pretty crumby Catholic, I think I'm a darn good Christian. I have a lot of friends who are atheists who also happen to be scientists. What we ALL share in common is the belief of putting aside time every week, if not most days, to be thankful for what we have, albeit recovered from a serious health issue, have decent health care, have a safe place to call home with enough food, heat, and beer for those Sunday Packer games. But most importantly, we all share a common sense of being grateful and humble for what we have. We don't take anything or anyone for granted. Regardless if someone is religious or not, taking the time to stop and smell the autumn leaves and ground cover that is so unique and rich at this time is paramount on so many levels. I don't miss being a practicing Catholic and don't miss being a member of the congregation. But I am forever grateful for the education I had while in Catholic school. I will always believe that God is where it's at for me, just not in that Catholic house of worship. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't thank the Lord for all that surrounds me in this life.

  150. @Marge Keller I often wonder who people are talking about when they say they don’t believe in “G-d”.

  151. @Marge Keller I’m an atheist and a Scientist. You complete me, Girlfriend.

  152. Thank you, Ms. Renkl. There are also daily opportunities, even the briefest of moments, for the "rest" you so wonderfully extol. It's almost painful, passing, sometimes even having to avoid a collision with, with someone walking and texting. There are exceptions, of course - introverts or those for whom their phone is their security blanket - but for most, they might as well be shouting at whomever or whatever they encounter, "you are of no value to me. "

  153. While taking a break from college, I spent 6 months on a kibbutz in Israel. The country shuts down from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. Even though that kibbutz was not “religious,” Kosher was kept, all holidays celebrated, and Shabbat was celebrated. Weddings (there were many) were never on Shabbat. Setting up and taking down the tables/benches was a lot of real work. I miss the one day of actual rest. Weekends are too frantic.

  154. Growing up in an Italian household in the 60s, I remember my mother and I would prepare the meatballs and sauce on Saturday. Then on Sunday, we would attend Mass. But rest?? After a family Sunday dinner, my brother and father would excuse themselves for what ever Sunday sporting event was on TV, while my mother and I would be relegated to the kitchen to wash dishes and clean up.

  155. @Diane L. . . same with my mid-western Baptist upbringing, except for Sunday Lunch we had roast Preacher!

  156. A beautiful essay with a message.

  157. Working single people and dual income families need to use every day off, including one provided for the purpose of Sabbath observance, to do things like wash laundry. Using it for resting is an act of conspicuous consumption, a status display. On the other hand, for those who have copious free time there's nothing special about resting. So the Sabbath is useless for most. Its function as a national standard of the Hebrew people in ancient times was to ensure hard working people got some down time (by God) and to ensure that time was set aside for socio-cultural cohesion. So if that's your heritage, you should honor it, but the rest of us mean no disrespect by finally mowing the grass or working the second gig so don't give us a hassle about it.

  158. @Robert David South. Sabbath to me doesn’t mean a specified day of the week, a mandatory stop to all work. I think it is supposed to be a restful state of mind. Perhaps that IS mowing your lawn, doing laundry, or cooking a meal. I understand Sabbath as a day, part of a day or even an hour to do nothing or do something that helps people reflect, calm their mind and body. I grew up with mandated social-cultural cohesion and never understood why I could take a walk but not ride my bike on Sunday. I also believe that setting aside a bit of time to rest our minds is healthy. Even if that’s a five minute break from thinking. The Bible talks about praying in a closet. I think you hit on a good thought. Neither praying, giving, nor Sabbath rest should be done conspicuously.

  159. @Robert David South: No one is giving you a hassle. Please stop feeling defensive because someone is suggesting a different way of being.

  160. @Robert David South I don’t read anyone here who is hassling you about it. Sorry you feel pressured, which it sounds like is not something you need more of.

  161. I started observing restful sabbath Sundays about ten years ago (I am 66). Highly recommend. I now include no or minimal screen time on sabbath. I love it. Also, the book “The Sabbath” by Abraham Joshua Heschl is in my top ten spiritual books.

  162. What a wonderful article. If we took a day of rest as seriously as many people have throughout the centuries, maybe there would be less stress, but more laundry piling up.

  163. The traditional idea of a Sabbath is tied inextricably to the twin concepts of holiness and separation. For animals that are not human, every day is the same. They do not have the capacity to single out a day and say, "I could do what I regularly do, but choose not to do that out of a sense of holiness." It is not just that a day of rest is being taken, but that the day of rest is being done because it honors Creation. Sure, a consistent day off once a week is a lovely thing, but it has so much more meaning when God is involved. When people separate the rest of the week from the holy Sabbath, it reminds us that though all living things came from dust and to dust we shall return, but we are also not like the animals. We have the capacity to be godly.

  164. @Snowball On the other hand, animals, when they need rest, rest. When they need to eat, they hunt or browse. They are much less driven than us to “do what they regularly do”: they just do as they need to do. A good lesson for all of us, if we examine what we mean by “need.”

  165. @Laurie: Tell that to a pair of yoked oxen.

  166. @Snowball Since we made up the idea of gods, thousands of them, we merely have the capacity to be human.

  167. Lovely essay, and certainly needed in our rush-rush times. A niggling correction -- the implication that only Baptists (such as the author's grandmother, in her youth) read the King James version of the Bible is simply incorrect... It was for centuries the standard Bible for all Protestants and made its way into the language as a result. (After the Reformation, the Catholic church produced its own translation; the Catholic canon still varies from the Protestant one).

  168. We are human beings, not human doings. That is what a day of rest acknowledges. God loves us, because he is Love (I John). We can therefore let up on our plans, and listen to what God's are. And really, shouldn't we be doing that more than just one day out of seven? How much better the world would be if we were not always so consumed with multi-tasking.

  169. I think it unfair to react to a piece by telling the author what she might have written. Having read a number of this writer's columns, I know that I am in for a view of the world very different from my own. I am curious how our insights overlap and where they differ. Certainly, she delivers. From my Orthodox Jewish upbringing, I, too, know that it is possible to set boundaries in life and to live by them. I, too, have loosed the boundaries of my childhood. I am writing this on a day when my tradition prohibits the use of electronic devices and pens. I am aware that the choice is in my own hands. As I read this essay, I was struck by the richness of the author's vision and resolved to make use of it in my own writing. I recognized that much that I feel compelled to do may be more a matter of choice than I am ready to admit. She spoke to my desire to embody my aspirations even as she described her own efforts to nurture herself. She did not provide a history of or cross-cultural survey of rest. She did not present scientific evidence of the value of rest. She simply named a truth in her own life. It resonated with m, and I am grateful for it.

  170. The idea of resting on a sabbath is lovely, but can women enjoy this luxury? Families still want to eat on the sabbath, and the men of the family are seldom called upon to forego their sabbath dinners, nor do they think much about the time-consuming work that is cooking; or the kids and babies who need attention; or the family pets that are hungry seven days a week or the general cleaning and tidying that make a home liveable. The men have the luxury of pondering the meaning of rest, and of reading and studying whatever scripture they may worship. The women are doing the dishes.

  171. @Diana Amsterdam In the Jewish Sabbath cooking is forbidden and washing dishes is frowned upon, so even if that doesn't on its own address potential gender gaps, at least it means in principle that everyone takes equal part in the day of rest. The Torah goes even further saying that all servants and even animals rest too.

  172. @Diana Amsterdam Sabbath observant Jews cook food in advance and do dishes after Sabbath concludes, or use disposable tableware. There is plenty of time to pray, read, play games and socialize when the children are old enough to eat and play with less adult supervision.

  173. I have kept the Sabbath each week from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday for the past 30 years. ( I am a Seventh-Day Adventist). Resting on God's Sabbath each week is a blessing. It re-energizes you, keeps you focused, and enhances my relationships, especially with family.

  174. @JC - the sabbath was the most joyous wonder when I converted to Seventh Day Adventism myself. In addition to the blessings you mention is the scientific fact that member of SDA have longer average life spans.

  175. Sometimes, I see incredible things during evening dog walks. Rabbits on someone’s lawn, a big fat gorgeous robin, an amazing pink sky. My instinct is to turn around to see if there is somebody I can share it with - “Look, look - it’s a family of rabbits! Aren’t they fabulous?” Sometimes, nobody’s around but most often there’s a person walking with their nose buried in their cell phone. If I interrupt them, there’s a chance they’ll be annoyed. Something important is being lost on this planet. This essay is a wonderful reminder.

  176. In Sikh Dharma there is a concept called "Dheeraj". It is often translated as "patience", but has a connotation of complete relaxation of body and mind. The idea is to do all ones activities each day with a body and mind free of tension and anxiety. Perhaps the "day of rest " or Sabbath ,is a way of experencing that state of being, in order to have a comparative study of life where for at least one day ,the "busy-ness" is set aside.

  177. @Mata Mandir Khalsa What a profound concept that can boost my fledgling mindfulness practice of not striving: stopping frequently to check in and let go. Practice because it's taking a LOT of practice to get much of a toehold. Or lack of toehold. Or being at peace with today's toeholdedness. (See what I mean?) Thank you.

  178. More on Radnor Lake, please. Has the state bought the rest of the property around the lake's watershed, including what's left of Maryland Farms on the south side? Are all of Nashville's public schools using it as a study area in their courses, i.e. field trips? What student oriented research is being carried out there, and also at the VU observatory adjacent to it? (Unlike most big city planetariums done on the cheap with canned presentations, the lectures there on astronomy and the night sky are conducted by astronomers with time for questions and answers.) As a State natural area, has the State of TN provided a conference center nearby with reasonably priced accommodations for visitors, especially families? Bredesen put in that the interest from funds held in escrow by the State be used to expand State parks. How is that being spent, and has the State increased these funds? (As an elected official in an extreme gun nut State, Bredesen was most often silent on guns. Now that he is retired, how does he now feel about gun control legislation? The same for Alexander who still has a chance to make a difference in the Senate on bills, on which McConnell is refusing to allow a vote, denying Democracy) For those outside of Nashville, Radnor Lake is a natural area adjacent to the heart of a big city, with extraordinary wildflowers and fauna. One side of the lake has a closed paved road which makes it ideal for the handicapped--or a nearby assisted living facility.

  179. We have the desire to contribute in this life, to work toward our goals, to better our communities but we work so hard that we break down. Caring for the self by taking a rest means we have wisdom and strength to continue the work and support others.

  180. In my Anglican church, some clergy take off Fridays--no internet, no email, no office, no phone, no nothing--in order to reflect upon who they are and what they do with their lives, and prepare themselves for the celebration of the Lord's day on Sunday, when they must work. That's a sabbath, and well worth it.

  181. It would do all the agitated progressive loaded with trained fury a world of good to go spend an hour or two walking around Radnor Lake or one of the other temperate-climate lakes within 500 miles.

  182. @L osservatore It would do the the science and climate change deniers a world of good to spend a few days out in the National Parks, forests, and rivers that are being destroyed by greed fueled pollution. Maybe they would experience some appreciation.

  183. @L osservatore if just to escape people who can't help but inject a political criticism where one is not needed right? Or doesn't the Bible mention that anywhere?

  184. Werner Sombart mentioned this in one of his books on social economics. Before the adoption of capitalism, the peasants lives had many more religious holidays than today; they spent a third of their time "resting". With capitalism and the division of labor, working hours were essentially formalized, generally 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. The fight for an 8 hour day began in 1900 for safety reasons. Repetitious factory work was boring; workers became careless. I worked on a NY farm in the 60's and worked 12 hours a day for 6.5 days a week.

  185. For those without the religious background or impulse I would like to propose an alternative: a carbon-free sabbath. Simply refrain from any activity that in any way requires fossil energy for one day a week. As the author says, if one must work seven days a week, either in the home or out of it, you are excused to the extent that you may use carbon-based energy to fulfill your work obligations. Otherwise -- don't drive or use any major appliances. See how low (or high, depends on season and region) you can set the thermostat without real discomfort. Add spiritual stuff if you like or shut off all info-tech devices. The biblical admonition about the sabbath goes on to specify that work animals should also rest. You might enlarge that to a view that all of creation should rest on the sabbath. If you can only refrain from one thing make it the car: don't drive anywhere. Good luck.

  186. A day of rest, whether or not you believe any Religious Doctrine, is necessary for all of us. Taking pause in a hectic schedule called life is most important for our mental well-being, not just the physical aspect of a day of rest. If everyone had self discipline it would be easy, but we allow the Corporations in this country to eat at all of our time, interfering with our ability to spend time on other things or people who have nothing to do with work. Too much screen time and the need to brag about working 80 hours a week so that you can climb the Corporate Ladder, worn like a badge of honor. When you lay in your death bed, you are not going to think one whit about work but you sure are wanting to be surrounded by those you love and love you back. If you do not spend time on having meaningful relationships you will die alone. Take the time now, whether it is called a day of rest, or a mental health day. In the end it is our loving relationships that get us through life.

  187. I too was raised to regard Sunday as a day of rest, although the church I attended demanded three meeting; one in the morning; one in the early afternoon and one at 5:00 PM. Hardly a day of rest. It was difficult to keep up the Sunday pace and in between meetings I napped. Some 30 plus years ago, I became a "None" and now I can rest the whole day, as if my body demands it. What a relief!