By Craig Funston
You may wonder what the “Twenty-four Six” heading means. Well, for starters, 24/6 is different from 24/7. The former suggests what I am driving at; the latter suggests that I’m being driven. (Fairly witty distinction, I’d say.)
We speak of support lines being available 24/7, of certain coffee shops being open 24/7. Those schedules are good and bad: good for the buyer, bad for the seller.
There is a real need for a six-day work week these days, with the seventh day being a true day of rest. You’ll have your own definition of what “rest” means. Technically, it means “to cease from labour,” whatever labour you’re doing.
I have to confess my sin here: I rarely take a day off myself, though I am no longer bound by a Monday-to-Friday job, with working set hours. Sometimes with fixed hours, one can just leave the workplace and go home (I know there are lot of exceptions). But when it is fluid (like mine), one who is a Type A (like yours truly), it is really had to draw the line—because there simply is no line.
The premise of today’s column, with this particular commandment, is that we need to take a break on a weekly basis in order to restore our mind, rejuvenate our bodies, and re-kindle our relationships, The two begging questions are: Why should we do it? And, How should we do it?
Even within the immediate context (Exodus 20.8-11) of the historical basis for such a day, there is the encouragement when to work and not work, setting aside a day of rest. There is the “holy” (= special and set aside) component to the Sabbath, but I won’t develop that here.
Taking a regular break is not without precedent. We take a break every night; it’s called sleeping. And woe betide us (and those we come in contact with) when we don’t enough sleep or have a lousy night in bed.
We take a break from eating (and maybe cheat a little with snacking), but we pay the price if we eat too much. We even pay the price if we don’t take a break. It just needs to be balanced. We often take a break from working; it’s called a family vacation, though sometimes if we don’t do it right, we end up needing a vacation to recover from our vacation.
But this notion of taking a break, a rest, a cessation from labour (very technical-sounding, isn’t it?), is what this column is all about. Are you able to work your five days, maybe six, and then say “enough is enough”?
The key is to replace your labour with something very different, and I will leave that up to you to call that one. It’s a matter of structuring your lifestyle whereby there is a balance between the duty of doing and pleasure of leisure Any imbalance leads to either extreme of workaholism or laziness, and we don’t want that, do we?
I know, even on a Sabbath, dishes always have to be washed, meals prepared, garbage taken out, along with the regular household chores. In most of our cases, our lifestyle would need some severe tweaking, and even then, we likely couldn’t come up with a clean-slate sabbath.
You might want to adjust your schedule, and one complete day may not work for you. Perhaps it will be a couple of nights a week here, or a morning there. That doesn’t strike me as too difficult.
We (and I mean “we”) may work a lot because we find some fulfillment, as a badge of honour, of being always busy. Other times we work a lot to avoid being engaged in the matters that matters most, namely, family and friends; that is, it is a means of avoidance. Sometimes we work a lot because there is both a time and financial constraint issue, and slaving ten hours a day six days a week is the only way to keep our head above water.
But the simple point is that we need to have a regular break from the weekly routine. It doesn’t mean we have to do this to replace doing that. That may work, but better, just get creative when it comes to habits, duties, chores, demands, and expectations.
We’ve heard of a good “work ethic” and that is absolutely necessary for all. But I suggest we also need a good rest ethic, or in the language of today’s column, a good sabbath ethic. I’ve never heard that phrase before, and yes, if you ask me, I think it’s kind of cool.
The Designer (God) of our souls knows what’s best for us. I think it’s wise on our part to read and follow His Manual (Bible) for our life. We’d have a better society for it. And that is certainly a good goal.