Another year has come and gone.
New Year’s Day is an arbitrary day. There’s no particular reason why we have to set the start of a new year one week after Christmas Day. Still, the two days, Christmas and New Year book end a week that seems to slow down the world.
It’s not as though no work is done. I still had to produce worship for December 30. The world still functions, too. We had people come under hospice care, and people died, too. Stores were probably filled with people searching for post-Christmas sales. Entertainment venues were open.
Still, the world seems to slow down just a bit. People finish their unused vacation time. Send people e-mail or call them in the office and we might get some sort of reply like, “So and So will be out of the office until January 2.” It’s as though they’ve disconnected from the world.
Slowing down, it’s good. Disconnecting, that’s good too. We need to slow down because the world seems to be moving too fast. Slowing down and disconnecting gives us space to contemplate nothing. Contemplating nothing gives us a chance to reconnect to ourselves – a sort of taking stock of one’s life. Maybe we’ll use this time to have coffee or lunch with a friend or just be together with family and friends. Slowing down restores our souls.
I read an article in yesterday’s New York Times about companies which have tried to restore the work-life balance in their employees’ lives by restricting e-mails and text messages. Where it has been implemented, companies found worker productivity went up. People came to work rested.
Slowing down between Christmas and New Year. Disconnecting from our technology. They’re both about Sabbath, which is really critical to our being. Sabbath keeps us grounded. We can put our attention to the task at hand, such as reading a book for pleasure, without having to worry if we forgot someone who wants to reach us. We can be completely present to our family member or friend without fear of being called away. They’re both real gifts.
I try to use Sundays after worship as a time to do nothing other than read the paper. Some days I am more successful than others.
I wish we all had more time to disconnect in order to reconnect to what’s really important in our lives: family, friends, neighbors, our own souls. I wish we could do it more regularly than the week between Christmas and New Year. Sabbath puts the world in perspective and reminds us of whose we are.
I hope that everyone (including me) who had a chance to disconnect and reconnect will return to work on January 2 not only refreshed, but will see the world in a way that will make 2013 just a little better than 2012.