I was recently flipping through a copy of Good Housekeeping and scanned the editor's opening letter. She described being at an "improbable place: a women's retreat" for part of a Saturday. "Ironically," she wrote, "the topic was time—how to think about it, handle it, make peace with never having enough of it. And I discovered that it was… all but impossible for me to just sit still and listen—not take notes, not check my BlackBerry, not multitask in any way… Like most almost every woman I know, I live life in a terrific hurry, as if time is running out."
Let's see… Always being short on time; addiction to multi-tasking; feeling harried (and in great company being harried). Sounds all too familiar.
The biggest antidote that we have against the weight of the 24/7 life, I've been thinking, is the one command we 21st century Americans are most apt to break: keeping the Sabbath.
In Jesus' day, the problem with the Sabbath was that people were overcommitted to keeping it. It had become legalistic and cumbersome, a burden to God's people. It was so bureaucratic that the Pharisee regulators were thwarting God' purposes—and Jesus rebuked them from getting between God and the refreshment he wanted them to enjoy.
Today most of us have the opposite problem. Far from over-keeping the Sabbath and getting caught up in legalisms related to inactivity, most of us simply ignore it. Day of rest? Really? You mean, every week?
My life—like many involved women who are gifted for leadership – is multi-faceted and sometimes downright complicated. I mother three kids under five, manage a household, consult a few hours a week, and help lead a women's ministry at church. Activity is constant. Weekends let me catch up on all the stuff that didn't get done during the week (often more productively because my husband can watch the kids so I can really crank it out). Maybe you can relate.
The editor's inabililty to sit still resonates with me because this is the condition of the 21st century woman. Sitting means it's time to check email. Walking means it's time to pull out the iPod. Driving means it's time to make a phone call. The kids' nap means it's time to get some work done. Watching TV means it's time to fold laundry. Along with my whole generation, I'm losing the ability to be fully present—to attend fully to the moment at hand.