I can think of no better book to remedy life stress than Wayne Muller’s “Sabbath.” This is a quiet book, and Muller’s message is unhurried and subtle, as anyone who celebrates the Sabbath would expect.
Do read it thoughtfully, though, and challenge yourself with some of the practices that Muller outlines. When you do, I am confident you will slowly learn how to create rest in your life.
Here’s why: Muller defines Sabbath in the way it was originally meant – as rest. Rest is different from relaxation or recreation. It is the natural counterpart to action and is required for a balanced life. He explains that embracing the Sabbath is a conscious effort for one must find the rhythm between work and rest. Without rest, he insists, action builds on action until we become exhausted, frenzied and overwhelmed. Who can’t relate to that?
I carried it with me and picked it up in short bits, reading one chapter at a time. That was not difficult for “Sabbath” is divided into eight chapters, each focusing on one aspect of rest — such as time, happiness and rhythm. The sections of each chapter are a scant two pages and culminate in recommended practices, short thought pieces or activities that help bring a key concept into our lives.
One of my favorites ideas comes in the section on “fear of rest,” for Muller asks us to consciously practice silence. “Go for a walk or visit with a friend and do not speak,” he writes. “Be aware of your resistance to silence then see how it changes how you experience the situation.”
Such sage advice makes me regularly return to the book again and again for each passage that I read provides me with a sense of renewal and ease — something I tend to lose sight of when I am on the treadmill of work and life.
Parting thought: Action balanced by rest creates a sustainable life and one easy to obtain if we consciously adopt the behaviors expected on the Sabbath.