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Silence and Sabbath at the End of the Year

December 31, 2016

 One of the best gifts I get for Christmas comes every year after December 25.  It's the gift of a week unlike any other, when the usual routine is interrupted and it seems permissible to wait before starting new projects.  I love this week between Christmas and New Year's Day.  Don't get me wrong.  I love Christmas along with the sense of a new beginning that comes with the arrival of January 1.  But there's something about this week in the middle that allows for a slower pace.  Some time to catch my breath, catch up on some things that didn't get done before December 25 and enjoy a slower time before the new year begins.  The slower pace reminds me of the value a little silence and rest have to offer for other times as well. 

 

Which brings me to the subject of music.  What do you notice when you hear music?  Sounds?  Of course.  Dumb question, right?  But what about silence?  Have you ever noticed the silence between the notes being played or sung?  What about the times when one singer or instrumentalist steps back and lets someone else take a solo or simply let things settle into a softer mode for a few bars?  Silence is as much a part of great music as are the sounds.  Mozart is said to have declared that the most powerful effect in music was - no music.  That silence you hear is as much a part of the song as the sounds.  Without them the music would have no shape and make no sense.  The meaning is as present in the silence as it is in the sounds.

 

Then there is the Sabbath.  Even for people who don't consider themselves to be religious, it's hard to argue with the value of this rhythm of work and rest.  The theological foundation is deeply rooted in the Judeo Christian tradition.  It's important because, well, because God commands it.  It also turns out to be really good for us.  In this case it's something that is both good for us and enjoyable, even though it seems hard to follow in our culture that leaves little room for anything other than endless activity.  The benefits are substantial.  Let me suggest three:

  • Rest - let your mind, body and spirit recover.

  • Reflect - take stock of what matters most

  • Resign - No, not from from your job. But consider resigning from the idea that you're responsible for everything.  That is one of the reasons for the Sabbath, for people to acknowledge their dependence on God as the one who provides.  No matter what your position, you depend on many other people for your success and accomplishments.  Observing the Sabbath, even in a small measure, may help you do a better job of accepting your responsibilities while appreciating and accepting the contributions of others.  

What would you add to the list?

 

So, take a break!  Listen to the silence, observe the Sabbath, and enjoy the rhythm of work and rest that we're created for. 

 

If you'd like to dive a little deeper into this idea of Sabbath and work, here's an excellent article.  Let me know what you think.  Balancing Rhythms of Rest and Work

 

Happy New Year!

Danny

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