Archive for April 2nd, 2010

I saw Judith Schulevitz on The Colbert Report last night promoting her book, The Sabbath World: Glimpses of a Different Order of Time, and it brought a lot of things to mind.  Her book, from what I take, examines the concept of our need for a sabbath and how we have lost the benefits of this day of stoppage as we have become more and more entrenched in a hectic 24/7 world.   Our concept of time has been altered by our change as a society.  We see time spent in activity of ant sort as more meaningful than any spent in stillness.

I am old enough to remember when the Blue Laws of the past were still in play in this part of the world and how most businesses were closed on Sunday.  It was hard to find a gas station open.  You couldn’t buy alcohol.  Almost all retail stores were closed.  Traffic was lighter and Sundays had a quieter tone in general, even for my family which was not religiously observant in any way.

I used to think, when reminiscing about those days, that this slower pace and quiet was nothing more than the fact  that I was a kid and lived on the more casual, relaxed kidtime.  No deadlines.  No schedules.  Just be a kid and let time flow naturally.  But as I remember more, it really seemed to be a quieter and calmer time for the adults as well.  There was something very comforting in knowing that everyone’s week had this common day when we would all reset and realign.  A common stopping point where we could all reflect on the week that was past and regroup for the coming week..

Of course, that could never happen now.  We are too invested as a culture of perpetual motion now and to try to put on the brakes would take a revolution of sorts.  But people like Judith Schulevitz and her family are trying to return to that feeling of reflection.  It’s a small step but if only a few families can regain that sense of of calming the hands of the ever spinning clock, then it’s a worthy effort.

Here’s an article Judith Schulevitz wrote for the NY Times, several years ago that is the seed for this book and more clearly defines what I’m struggling to say.  For example:

What was Creation’s climactic culmination? The act of stopping. Why should God have considered it so important to stop? Rabbi Elijah of Vilna put it this way: God stopped to show us that what we create becomes meaningful to us only once we stop creating it and start to think about why we did so. The implication is clear. We could let the world wind us up and set us to marching, like mechanical dolls that go and go until they fall over, because they don’t have a mechanism that allows them to pause. But that would make us less than human. We have to remember to stop because we have to stop to remember.

Take a look and this Easter Sunday, relax.  Reset the clock…

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