I know the importance of rest now, but I didn’t prior to my journey through cancer. Before, I’d race along the multi-tasking interstate at mach speed. Before, I took pride in how much I could accomplish in a nano-second and how clearly I saw through the blur of so much momentum. Before, I wasn’t paying attention to the stop signs. I was too busy.
After my second diagnosis in 2007—a year after my first—neglecting the stops signs was no longer an option. It became clear that the vehicle I was in could no long sustain the demands I placed upon her. After such a hectic pace, my world suddenly crashed to slow-mo…like the parts in a movie where the main character’s life goes awry and strangely out of focus. That’s when a friend gave me the book, Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in Our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller.
Half way through the book, I bought 10 copies and gave them to my closest girlfriends. (Right or wrong, I think men are better at chilling out.) They accepted my gift like eager children clamoring for candy on Halloween.
Then, for a solid year, I devoted one day a week to doing nothing. Once I lay in the summer grass and for two lollygagging hours, watched the clouds overhead. I was transported back to childhood when doing nothing was a regular part of life. And it’s no wonder: it’s good for us.
In his book, Muller writes: “If we do not allow for a rhythm of rest in our overly busy lives, illness becomes our Sabbath—our pneumonia, our cancer, our heart attack, our accidents create Sabbath for us….I am always struck by the mixture of sadness and relief that (people with life-threatening illness) experience when illness interrupts their overly busy lives. While each shares their particular fears and sorrows, almost every one confesses some secret gratefulness. ‘Finally, at last, I can rest.’”
Even though it was hard for me to stop my busy life to recover from radiation or surgery, I too felt relieved at no longer living in a constant rush. I wondered why I hadn’t learned to rest before.