I am physically tired. After a wild weekend that included out-of-state travels and appointments, my body said, “No more work. Naptime!” Thinking I might gain a second wind if I crawled into bed, I grabbed one of the books vital for my doctoral work. Halfway through the chapter it was as if my body decided to take measures into its own hands. An hour later, my spouse gently asked me if I was going to sleep the entire night away. Not funny. Not funny at all. The panic that ensued after his salty words made me even more exhausted.
Welcome to the point in the academic calendar when reality hits and time becomes a hot commodity. Vital and necessary appointments become stressful as they carve minutes from our busy schedules. Eating becomes stressful. Breathing becomes stressful. Computer challenges send us metaphorically off the ledge, and if one more person tells us to “calm down, you will make it,” we will scream.
I do not know about you, but my mind is tired. My heart is tired. My soul is tired and as a result, my emotions are “off the chain.” Presenting to committee seems a far away dream and IRB a foreign language I am way too old to master. Add to these hurdles, day-to-day deadlines and meetings, a few students in their own exhaustion, the normal ebb and flow of two part time jobs, family drama, the declining health of my mother-in-law, and…too transparent? I told you I was tired.
I am not alone. The demands on your life may be different than mine, but I guarantee – I am not the only one wondering if I will ever feel rested and whole again. Our lives are complicated things infused with deadlines, and submissions, and assignments, and lesson plans, and meetings, and strategic plans, and health crises, and financial challenges, and family drama, and physical challenges… and sometimes we simply become tired. Being tired is a signal to slow down, to be still… to remember our humanity.
Sacred texts in many faith traditions offer words on solitude, reconnection and re-creation. The Judeo-Christian text speaks of Sabbath, an intentional time of communion with YHWH. Sabbath is to be a daily practice… a pause in the day’s chaos to acknowledge our humanity and realign us with the Creator.
If humanity is hardwired for Sabbath, as the text suggests, the question then becomes – what are we doing to position ourselves for Sabbath? As a fellow sojourner during these days, I offer a few suggestions:
- Find a red chair around the Dell and sit for ten minutes. Set your phone timer, close your eyes (if possible take off your shoes and let your feet become one with the ground) and breathe deeply of the fall air focusing on the rhythm of breathing and the refreshing air.
- Take a leisurely walk around the Dell between meetings or classes. Yes, I am inviting you to take the longest distance between points. Do not consult your phone as you walk. Check out the foliage, the skyline and the beauty of our campus.
- Take a nap. Set your alarm for thirty minutes and become one with your bed. My brain is conditioned to hear my alarm in the morning so for naptime, I set the timer on my phone. Knowing there is a timer and a limited time for sleep, I settle into my nap more deeply. I have conditioned my body to welcome a five-minute “total relaxation” and I continue to be amazed at how refreshed I feel.
- Begin each day with gratefulness. Welcome the new day and challenge yourself to see at least three positive things that day. In positioning one’s self for seeing the positive, expectation and anticipation become a part of the day’s journey. When I am expectant and in a state of anticipation, nothing seems ordinary. Everything is magical and full of possibility.
I could go on and on. Your faith tradition may have rituals you could implement, or you may have a ritual that has “centered you” along life’s journey. Practice it today. Recommit yourself to daily sabbath rituals and even go so far as to schedule time in your planner for it. Understand that sabbath time does not steal time from us; rather it fuels us for the journey by decreasing stress, bringing insight and discernment, and empowering chaos to become an agent of transformation.
May our Sabbath rituals empower, equip, refresh and fuel us as we push through to the end of the semester.