Wednesday

The abundant life: Vacation has spiritual benefits

In college, I had a psychology professor who said that he made one major change in his life every seven years. In this way he provided his own "Sabbath rest." At first I thought that this concept was a little radical, but now I am convinced that he was right.

The benefits of rest as a deterrent to stress have been proven medically, but in our fast paced society we often scorn rest as laziness.

The good news is that rest is a spiritual principle. The concept of taking a Sabbath is not new. In Genesis, we read that God the Creator took a "day" of rest after working for "six days." But how does one get rest like Scripture says we should? What my professor did is unrealistic and out of God's will for a lot of us, so we must all find someway to get rest.

It is noteworthy to mention that rest is different from sleep. Although sleep is very important in fighting stress- and fatigue-caused anxiety, rest is actually time spent awake refreshing oneself.

Personally, I have found that to be healthy mentally, spiritually and physically, I need several types of rest. I should have daily rest, weekly rest and yearly rest.

Daily rest is short. Every night before I go to sleep, I read one or two chapters from the Bible. Afterward, I try to pray and listen. I am not always successful. On nights when my mind is cluttered, I either need to write in my journal or talk. Without this daily practice, I find myself getting stressed out.

For weekly rest, I go to church and spend the day with family. For a real Sabbath rest, worship is essential. Activity should not revolve around regular work, if possible. With different working schedules, however, others may rest on another day. That's fine. The point is that a rest should be taken every week.

A yearly rest is paramount. Even if one can not get away, taking a week of vacation to clear the mind is downright spiritual. By vacation I mean doing activities that help you relax--even if that means sitting on your porch drinking tea, watching the world go by.

By separating ourselves from the normal routine, we realize that most of what we worry about isn't essential. Our problems become more manageable. Through rest we reconnect with the world around us and see beauty in small things. It is through rest that we are able to approach our working lives with creative energy and experience more of that abundant life.