Why is it so hard to take a break? Even as I type this, it is early in the evening on one of my days off. What is it that made me open the laptop and start typing this article on a Saturday evening? I could postpone it. I have time to finish this article during the week ahead. I could be doing any number of other things right now. I could read a book. I could play a board game with my kids. I could make a cup of hot chocolate and enjoy the break. Instead I’m typing this article.
Sabbath is a concept that you already know. It is a spiritual practice. There is something inherently spiritual about our ceasing to work. God could have created the world and the story could have moved on. But the rest is there for a reason. Not so much because God was weary from the heavy lifting of creation, but because we get weary. We are the ones who need to cease working. And God, who always does what is good and best for us, models the best practices for life.
It is the same with music. Music is not just continuous sound. Music is the dialogue of sound and silence. One of the most common mistakes that ensembles make is playing or singing during the rests. The squiggly lines are there for a reason. Music is not music without the rests. Great music draws you into its silence. What musicians don’t play or sing between the notes is just as important as the notes. For music to work, there must be rests.
I know why I am typing on my day off. It is productivity. My self-worth is conjoined to my ability to get stuff done. My identity is wrapped up in what I am able to produce. If I’m not producing something, then I’m not being who I am meant to be. And that is a lie. God did not make me to be a cog on a wheel or a machine in an assembly line. I am God’s child. My self-worth is dependent on who loves me, not what I get done. My identity is claimed in the waters of baptism, not my output.
If you struggle with Sabbath, don’t feel bad. I do too. As the year winds down and the holidays approach, I hope you will not skip over the rests. The notes don’t sustain forever. You have to take a breath to keep the music going.