Sometimes we just need a break.
A beautiful resource came across my desk: Dr. Leonard Felder’s “More Fully Alive~ The Benefits of Using Jewish Wisdom for Responding to Stress and Overload.” Instead of going over the next item on my to-do-list, I flipped to the page entitled, “Enjoying Mini-Sabbaticals Each Day and Each Week.” Dr. Felder suggests that in order to experience a Sabbath-like feeling during the week, we should schedule “phantom clients” in our calendar. He writes, “What’s a Phantom Client? It’s the name of someone who doesn’t really exist but by putting a realistic name on your calendar you make it look as if that spot is already taken and cannot be filled by anything else.” Meaning, because we rarely allow ourselves the gift of relaxation we should put a pretend client on our calendar and reserve that space for a bit of breathing, a walk around the block, or even a short cat nap.
Last night very good friends of ours took us to the Hollywood Bowl. As the sun began to set, my friend reminded me of the importance of “living in the moment.” And I thought to myself, “This is where you are supposed to be. Don’t let your mind wander in different directions. Gift yourself this moment of relaxation.” And I did. As the music of the LA Philharmonic washed over the thousands of people in attendance, I could almost feel a collective sigh. For attendees last night, our shared “calendar” indicated that for a few short hours we should listen, appreciate, and breathe. There was nowhere else to turn. We sat and together, experienced a mini sabbatical.
Ironically, we have a major sabbatical each week. If we let Shabbat be “Shabbat” then taking a break shouldn’t feel so luxurious or difficult to experience. We are told that in the process of creation, God “vayinafash.” God rested. God took a break. God took God’s calendar and planned time for rejuvenation. Whether you come to synagogue this weekend and let the words of the liturgy relax your soul and invigorate your spirit, take a long walk and breathe in the wonders and marvels of God’s world, or just hit snooze over and over again and cherish some precious minutes of sleep, calendar in Shabbat.
God relaxed; we should too.