Today is Shabbat. Not a bad way to start the secular New Year. Shabbat is time for prayer and reflection. And isn’t this idea of contemplation of one’s life a part of the secular New Year’s tradition?
The Sabbath is the pinnacle of creation. On the seventh day God rested from all the work of creation. Even God needed a break from all that hard work-creating light and darkness and animals, plants and oh yes, humanity! What’s to make human beings think that we too don’t need a rest?
The truth is we do. We Americans in particular sleep less, vacation less than most industrialized countries. In a new survey, The National Sleep Foundation found a third of all Americans are tossing and turning at night because of money woes. Thirty-five percent said they are running on less than six hours of sleep a night.
And we work longer hours with less vacation days. According to the Center for Economic Research in its Report of May 2007, “The report, No-Vacation Nation, by Rebecca Ray and John Schmitt, finds that European workers are legally guaranteed at least 20 paid vacation days per year, with 25 and even 30 or more days common in some countries. The gap between paid time off in the United States and the rest of the world is even larger when legal holidays are included. The United States does not guarantee any paid holidays, but most rich countries provide between 5 and 13 per year, in addition to paid vacation days.”
While Shabbat, the Sabbath day is not a vacation day like going to Hawaii or the Caribbean, it is a day for quiet. For relaxing; for being with friends and family; for refraining from work and errands; with time for God and mediation, prayer, reflection and for catching your breath.
What better way to begin the New Year than by catching your breath. And for me I contend that if you have a moment to catch your breath–you will be tapping in the Source of the Universe we call God!
So begin the year right. Make a weekly mini-vacation for yourself-celebrate Shabbat. Come pray, take your mind of work, celebrate with family and friends. Have a Shabbat nap! And start the New Year off right!