I’m tired. And my feet hurt. I really feel like I could use some rest.
But this is the time of year when there isn’t much time for rest. This time of year everything needs tending. It’s light from before six till after nine and every one of those hours is needed just to keep up.
I imagine that hunter-gatherers get plenty of rest, as long as they live somewhere with abundant food. But agriculture is labor intensive and especially so in the summer.
This post set me to thinking about the rhythms of life and how humans have adapted to them over time. The Christian church year, like Judaism, includes multiple feasts and fasts, including significant celebrations at or near the solstices and at harvest time. When this calendar was a regular part of human life, perhaps it helped hold folks to a rhythm of life, consistent with what was occurring in the natural world.
Most importantly there was the Sabbath day. On the last day of the week, no work was done. None. It was a day of rest. In an agricultural society, it was welcome and much needed.
When I was growing up Sunday was still a day of rest. Nothing was open on Sunday except the hospital emergency room. Families gathered after church for a big meal at home. There were no restaurants to go to and even if there had been, churchgoing folks wouldn’t possibly have gone to them.
I don’t recall my grandfather being a particularly religious man, but he never permitted any work on Sunday other than what was absolutely necessary, such as milking the cows. He was one of the hardest working men I have ever known, but on Sunday he rested.
These days there is no day of rest. Sunday seems just as busy as every other day of the week. Even those who don’t work on Sunday recreate in ways requiring the work of many others. Restaurants are especially crowded for lunch on Sunday, filled with the after-church crowd.
I work on the farm every Sunday. I allow myself to sleep an extra half hour, but I like catching up on the chores that I put off during the week. I don’t feel as rushed on Sunday, but I can’t honestly say I rest.
In losing our day of rest, I wonder if we haven’t lost something very valuable. Of course the wheels would fall off of our economy if we stopped buying things one day a week, but maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing. And maybe we’d all benefit from a day of real rest. A day without electronics, television, and anything motorized.
Maybe we need a rhythm and maybe that should include a day of rest.