Larry Banman " Weekends were designed for rest
May 21, 2009
Perhaps the most commonly asked question on Monday morning is, “How was your weekend?”
Answers vary, but are generally some variation of, “Too short” to “great” to “had to come back to work to get some rest.”
The premise of a weekend has its roots in rest. According to my good friends at Wikipedia, the notion of a weekly rest is ancient. The Jewish Sabbath, known as Shabbat, is from sunset Friday to when it is fully dark on Saturday. Sunday traditionally been viewed as a Christian Sabbath, though not all Christians acknowledge it as such. The French Revolutionary Calendar had ten day weeks and allowed decadi, one out of the ten days, as a leisure day.
The ancient sabbath is the origin of the present-day practice of “the weekend,” Saturday and Sunday in Western countries, in which most employees usually do not have to go to work. The sabbath itself was just one day each week, the preceding day also came to be taken off, because it was considered necessary to do preparatory tasks at home that would permit proper sabbath observance the next day, i.e., cessation from work. In sacred circles, the weekend has traditionally become a time for contemplation, worship and thanksgiving for the bounty provided during the week.
As seems to be true with most things secular, mankind has the tendency to take something sacred and convolute it to take advantage of the concept but ignore the foundation behind that concept. Exhibit A – Christmas.
Growing up in the ’60s and ’70s, I remember when it was difficult to find an open retail outlet. I can even remember being cautious about traveling because it might be difficult to find a gas station that was open on a Sunday. My, how times have changed. It seems that now, Sunday is a prime shopping day. Gas stations are not only open on Sundays, some of them never close. There doesn’t seem to be a bad time to take advantage of a retail opportunity. In pursuit of – whatever – we have left no stone unturned. Sometimes I wonder if we don’t resemble a hamster in a wheel, running furiously, but going nowhere. And somewhere along the way, we have lost the concept of resting.
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I look no further than myself as a prime culprit in losing that concept of getting recharged. Often, I look at weekends as an opportunity to catch up. A time to get work done at home. Work that I have assigned myself as necessary. I have a settee in my front yard and a porch swing in my backyard. They could both be scrapped, for all the services they perform. Every time I sit in either, I am soon consumed by thoughts of another weed to pull, another feature to build, another fence to mend, another, another, another.
Sunday morning, in our family, is most often reserved for church. Even there, if I’m not careful, my mind goes to solving a problem at home, to how much longer until I can get back to catching up. Even in a setting where the inventor of the concept of rest is to be honored, I struggle to grasp the concept.
Summer is the worst. In the mountains of Colorado, summertime is so short that many of us transplanted Midwesterners try to cram eight months of activity into three months of growing season. The volume is turned up on our lives and we resemble a VCR on fast forward. By September we are so exhausted that the first freeze turns out to be a blessing. For me, I believe that is why I love October so much. The days are still relatively long, but the nightly freezes inhibit and prohibit outdoor activity.
I understand that simple to survive, some people have to work on weekends. I have always found it hypocritical to criticize those who work on Sunday, while enjoying the services they provide for those of us in a posture of rest. I just think we need to come to a place where rest becomes an integral part of our daily lives.
Most of us are more fun to be around when we are rested. Relationships improve with rest. Life is tough enough without the stress of sleep deprivation. I am going to look for moments of repose and reflection. Weekends are good place to start on that mission.
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