Working from rest

In my family we’ve argued about whether the first day of the week is Sunday or Monday. Do other families have these weird debates or is it just us?

Anyway…according to the ancient Judeo-Christian creation myth, God made mankind on the sixth day, then rested from work on the seventh[1]……

This means that mankind’s first full day was a Sabbath.

Years ago I heard a refreshing talk about this observation, deducing that our natural starting place is one of rest – that our work or activity should therefore spring from a place of restfulness, or simply being, rather than seeing our rest or Sabbath as recuperation from our work.

Common Blue, just chillin’

In the natural rhythms of life, rest is our priority. Then our activity / work / productiveness. This has important implications for our sense of identity – knowing who we are apart from our achievements.

This does not always come naturally to me. I’m full of energy and drive and restlessness. Maybe due to an addiction to productivity, stemming from an insecure childhood. I may even have undiagnosed ADHD. But probably mostly it’s just my innate personality.

I can be a bit like this Hummingbird Hawkmoth, always busy

Which is one of many reasons I find meditative and contemplative practices so vital in my life.

Ideally, what we do streams from who we are, rather than creating who we are.

Living streams, Sheffield

Rest, then work. Not the other way round.

I wrote most of this piece and took most of the photos while on holiday, reflecting on this timeless wisdom and on my work-weariness. The holiday was definitely a rest from work, and that’s fine…

…but I was also conscious of the need to not just switch off and forget about work, but also to renew my sense of identity, to find strength and revive my soul, for its own sake and in preparation for the return to the responsibilities of day-to-day life.

A Buzzard at rest, taking stock before returning to hunting

Despite my assertion above about the designed order of things, sometimes we need both processes (rest-then-work and work-then-rest) to take place, almost at once.

Holidays, Sabbaths, periods of rest and moments of meditation can be both things: first a time of healing and recuperation from the stresses and strains of life and work, sashaying almost imperceptibly into a state of being, of satisfied stillness, simply for the enjoyment of life itself, as well as reviving us in preparation for the return to the 9-5 (or 8-6 or 12-12).

The stillness and serenity of a Supermoon-lit evening, Devon

For some people, Sabbath is a Saturday, for others it’s Sunday, and for still others it’s whenever they can get a day – or a moment – to rest. The first day of the week, I guess, according to Judeo-Christian thought, should technically be whatever day your Sabbath or day off is.

A bay at rest in the evening glow, Brixham

What matters, most, though, is seeing rest as the starting point that we work from. Making restfulness our (my) priority, for the sake of our own souls as well as for those who depend on us.

“But those who trust [rest] in Yahweh [God / Presence / ‘I Am’] will find new strength.

They will soar high on wings like eagles.

They will run and not grow weary.

They will walk and not faint.

(Isaiah)

Resting comes naturally to Gorka! Here he’s taking shelter from the sun during a recent heatwave.

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(Photos all mine. No copyright. Feel free to use / share, with my blessing!)

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[1] I believe that accepting the Genesis account of Creation as allegorical enables us to understand depths of meaning and breadths of wisdom that might otherwise be lost by taking it literally. Having said that, I wouldn’t entirely rule out the possibility of literal elements! As I expressed in A Natural Creed:

I believe that science gives us wonderful insight into the origins and progression of the Universe and Life;

that the Biblical accounts of Creation are deeply inspired, allegorical myths that reveal much about the Source of the Universe and Life – and about human nature,

but that there may also be elements of literal truth in those ancient texts;

that we would do well to listen to science and religion and philosophy in order to best understand our place in the Universe;  

but that the origins of the Universe and Life remain a mystery and are probably weirder than any scientist or theologian can imagine!”

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