And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. - Genesis 2:2, King James Bible
I do not practice the Christian faith, but I grew up in a country, England, that is heavily influenced by it. Sundays were a day of rest. The only stores that were open were the local newsagents, or corner shops. They opened early on Sunday morning to sell the newspapers and a few essentials, milk, etc, and were closed by noon.
If you needed to buy anything else you had to wait until the next day. No choice.
For one day of the week, one’s mind was not engaged in thinking about monetary consumption. It was a day for family, for walks, for working in the garden, for resting, for reading, for making do with what one had, for being grateful. The benefits were felt, I assume (maybe incorrectly given what happened next), beyond those people of faith.
…as I entered my thirties, the restriction of not being able to trade on a Sunday in the UK was slowly eroded. Initially the Sunday Trading Laws were enacted. This enabled certain stores, over and above the newsagents, to be opened for a limited number of hours on Sundays. That law was like a slow opening of the sluice gates. Within a relatively short time Sunday was looking no different than any other day of the week.
A trip back in time
A number of years after the Sunday Trading Laws were introduced, I found myself in Graz, Austria for a series of Buddhist teachings being given by HH the Dalai Lama. There was a 20 minute walk from our hotel to the venue that the teachings were being held in. We arrived on a week day, and spent those first few days navigating the traffic, both the cars and those on foot, as we commuted to the event.
And then Sunday came…
…and with it came an unexpected experience, because I was by now so use the new English way. The walk was quiet. There was next to no one around. No traffic. Those who we did pass were dressed in their best clothes, presumably on their way to church? The energy in that city was notably different - restful, quiet, not busy.
That visit to Graz reminded me of what I felt had been lost in England’s embracing of consumerism, of its embracing of business as usual.
The Sacredness of Rest
“And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” - Genesis 2:3, King James Bible
Regardless of one’s faith, even if one professes to no beliefs, I believe that there is something Sacred about a day put aside for rest. A day put aside free of busyness, of transaction, of consuming. That day, becomes special, different from every other. A day to step back, take stock and be with those who are important to you…or perhaps just a day to yourself. One might call it a day to consume what truly sustains your body, your being.
The Introvert/Sensitive angle
I understand those saying that I would lean to a quieter day because of my personality. I hear that comment, and I believe that in a world where there is so much more noise than there use to be, where communication is so easy and abundant that it can be difficult to disconnect, that a day of stopping, of resting, of taking a break to reflect is needed for the health of the individual and of society.
As I read somewhere once, it is the pauses, the rests that make up the sound of music. Translate that into the life that we lead today.