NaBloPoMo 4: The Gift of Time

That coveted extra hour of sleep that comes each fall! I always have such high expectations. And like today, they are usually dashed. It was especially frustrating since the focus of my thinking between midnight and 2 AM, when I finally fell back asleep, was “at least I can sleep in…” Yeah, that didn’t happen.

We all want more time…more years in our life, more hours in our day. And it seems to me the more “convenient” our electronics make life, the more we try to cram in to each hour, and the more time we need. I am busier and with less “down time” than ever, and I know I’m not alone. I also know this probably isn’t good for me, or any of us. Demands are greater, attention spans are shorter and frustrations come more easily. Oh, but if we just had more hours in a day…

Judaism has the antidote for this. Our sabbath (Shabbat) begins at sundown on Friday, and we set the tone by lighting candles and reciting blessing for every-day things that we might otherwise take for granted. Once the candles are lit traditional limits our activities quite dramatically. Jewish law says that, just as God rested on the seventh day, we too must refrain from work. There are thousands of years of thought on what “work” means but here are some highlights: we can’t write, we can’t carry things (including money), we can’t create things and hardest of all in today’s electronic age – we can’t spark a flame. That means we can’t turn on a light, or a television; use a computer, or a cell phone. We can, however, read a book, visit with friends, play games with the kids, join our community in synagogue, go for long walks…

Of course not everyone (myself included) follows all of these rules, though many strive to. 

But here’s the great irony – you know that extra hour? In Judaism it comes every week. Shabbat is a 25-hour day, since it ends about an hour after sunset on Saturday. And while I may not be strictly observance of how I use this day of rest, the message that my extra hour goes here, when I should be tending to myself and my family, rather than when I am running errands or at the office.

So if YOU had an extra hour, and hour set apart, defined by different rules – an hour not about getting things done, but about slowing down and just being, how would you use it?

Advertisements

%d bloggers like this: