This past weekend, I sat at lunch with some tarot friends and colleagues, listening to a discussion about the evergreen issue of overwhelm and time management.
One woman mentioned that she’s developed a practice of taking one day a week to do nothing, not even get dressed or engage with other people if it doesn’t suit her. She started it as a monthly renew and refresh day but became so enamored of it that she now does it weekly. Another woman at the table thought that was a great idea and perhaps she could try it once a month.
I found the conversation amusing and bemusing at the same time. Amusing because, of course, this isn’t a new idea, it is the traditional religious idea of a Sabbath. Many different religious sects have a Sabbath, some in order to rest as the god or goddess did, and others in order to have time to pray or honor the appropriate deity.
I was bemused by our discussion because the real issue is not one of discovering or creating a time of rest, but how we lost it in the first place.
Very few of us practice a “Sabbat” of any kind nowadays, especially those of us who are creatives or creative entrepreneurs. Like moms, our work is never done. The fact that many of us work from home means that our work is never more than a few steps away, hanging over us like dire black birds, cawing to us of the work that MUST get done.
And just in case we don’t hear them, then our cell phones and laptops are sure to relay the message, even when we manage to schedule time away for a vacation.
Of course, we also feel responsible about meeting everyone’s needs, especially those of our clients, fans or supporters. So naturally we work through the weekend to meet a last-minute demand for a project or give up our quiet meditation time to take an early phone appointment.
And there goes our Sabbath, our sabbat, our time away for rest and renewal.
In Ciro Marchetti’s deck, the Four of Swords speaks clearly to us about this issue. In a chapel-like space lit by a stained glass window with the Greek symbol, Chi Rho, the symbol for Christ, a man rests on four swords. A raven (death, the soul) flies over him with two poppies in its beak, one red (love, life) and one white (purity, rebirth). Notice that the Swords, the suit of the mind, thoughts and communication, point down. This card implies a rest or retreat from the stresses of the mind. The worries and concerns, the swords, aren’t gone, just at rest, like the man.
I think it’s important to notice that this rest occurs in a sacred space. Sleep and rest aren’t just biological needs but also sacred acts. When we sleep, we dream and within our dreams, we receive guidance and inspiration, insight and foresight. When we take time to meditate, to slow down and daydream or to let our minds wander, we restore and rebalance our emotional, mental, and spiritual energies as well as our physical ones.
Just as importantly, our creativity is restored.
Rest, retreat and renewal are not special treats that we can put off until we “have time.” They are something that is intrinsically necessary to our well-being.
So how can you make time for rest and renewal, for your personal sabbat?
You can start in small ways. You can take an occasional nap. Or you can start your day off with 15 minutes of meditation, or journaling, or with just sipping a cup of tea and staring out the window.
Learn to take time away from your technology buddies, your cell phone and laptop. Turn off the TV and even your music.
Then increase that 15 minutes to a half hour or more. Or make your weekend a time away from your weekly work. Like developing a muscle, carving out time for rest and renewal may become easier the more you do it. Then those flowers of love, life, and rebirth can be received.
Tired? Overwhelmed? Creatively depleted? Take some time for rest and renewal.
After all, the sacred day of rest never left us. We left it. So what can you do today to return to a sacred time of rest and renewal?