Monday, July 2, 2012

The role of rest

Kelowna, BC
Last week I took a real vacation, something I haven’t done for some time – a get-on-a-plane-and-go-far-away-just-to-relax vacation. My lovely wife and our youngest daughter headed to the Pacific Northwest where we took in breath-taking scenery and visited with family members. I did not take my work laptop on the trip, so I wasn’t even tempted to check my email. I did not blog. We visited, hiked, ate at cool restaurants (including the one where one of my sons works), slept in a bit, read, played games and generally relaxed. I still tried to honor my diet, and to exercise each day, and I came away from the week pretty close to where I started it, weight-wise, so that was all good, too. I got close to eight hours of sleep a night, something I almost never do in a normal work week.

What has this got to do with the point of my blog, which is to share my Mormon experience? Only this: there’s value in rest.

The Sabbath as a day of rest is a regular part of my religious experience. I avoid working on Sunday (and am fortunate to work in a profession that does not require it); I also avoid other activities on Sunday that detract from the spirit of that day for me. We encourage our children not to do homework on Sunday (though in the end we know they will have to learn their own lessons in that regard). It’s not that my Sunday is a day of inactivity: we do go to church, often have choir practice, and sometimes welcome home teachers into our home (I try not to home teach on Sunday unless one of my families prefers that we visit that day). We try to spend time together as a family, especially on Sunday evening which is family game night at our home.

That day of rest is a valuable part of my week, just as this past week’s vacation was valuable in helping me to rejuvenate myself a bit. Although I was always just as happy for President Kimball’s advice that napping is an appropriate Sabbath activity as the next member of my priesthood quorum, I acknowledge that the rest the Sabbath provides is far more than physical. The spiritual rest from the work of my world is as valuable as the nap.

Yes, we have to cope with the kids on Sunday. When we had lots of little Bedlamites running around, Sundays were a real challenge; we tried not to rely too heavily on those Living Scripture videos, but our kids knew those stories very, very well... But as our kids have grown older, we’ve all worked into the Sunday patterns that work pretty well for us. Having afternoon church helps us with our kids at their present ages (where sleeping in is preferred to midday naps; I know younger families would prefer it the other way around).

We still have a big meal on Sunday – not one that requires lots of fussy preparation, but one that is something to share with one another, another reason to gather around the table, and then to linger there a little longer than we normally would on a weeknight. And the preparation and cleanup are family affairs, too.

Many years ago, when our oldest son played basketball in a tournament on a Sunday, I mentioned to another parent there that we normally didn’t like to do that sort of thing on Sunday. She asked what we did instead. I was not really prepared for her question, and I mumbled something about family time. (She, who attended the tournament with her husband and all her kids, while I was there with Son #1 only…)

I would answer that question differently today. I’d say, “Sunday is an important day for us. It’s a day we can attend church together and then spend the day together as a family. We try to do things on Sunday that are more restful and peaceful than other days. We try to run around less and simply to have peaceful time together.”

I hope your Sundays are peaceful.

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