Before I get started, here is what you should know:
I love school.
No, really, I love it. I always have. In fact, the summer before 1st grade, I asked to be in summer school, so every morning my dad would leave “worksheets” on the kitchen table for me to do. I just love to learn. I believe that our purpose in life is to learn and grow in order to become like our Heavenly Parents and our Savior, Jesus Christ. When I learn, I feel myself growing closer to them, and I marvel at this world that was created for us.
But as much as I love school, and as important as it is to me, I also believe in the notion of a sabbath. That term can mean different things to different people. For many religious people, including myself, the Sabbath is a day (perhaps sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, perhaps Sunday) to rest from typical labors, worship God, and reconsecrate oneself to Deity. Certain customs may be observed–part of my personal observance typically includes attending worship services, abstaining from shopping or dining out, and reflecting on my relationship with God through journaling and/or scripture study–all with the intent of regaining focus on what matters most in a busy world.
When I was a junior in high school, I decided to devote myself on the Sabbath hardcore. Let me rephrase that: I didn’t change my observance, but my circumstances made my observance more difficult. A typical day went like this:
5:10 am Wake up, get in car for early-morning seminary
5:25 am Arrive at early-morning seminary class (my mom was the teacher, so we were always early)
5:50-6:35 am Early-morning Seminary
6:35 am-6:50 am Travel home
7 am Prepare (Unless I went straight to school from seminary, in which case–homework)
8 am Leave for school
8:30-2:30 pm School (Or was it 2:40? 1:47? Does anyone who went to Moanalua High School understand the bell schedule there? I still don’t.)
2:30-5:00 pm, or maybe 6:00 pm, or maybe 7:00 pm or 8:00 pm Band or orchestra rehearsals, track practice, student association meetings, homecoming practice…who knows what else I ever did
I guess I did homework sometime after that, because I was taking 8 classes (the typical schedule at my school was 6 classes), and two of those were AP classes, and I was the vice president of the student association, and part of the National Honor Society and blahblahblah I WAS BUSY.
I decided to stick, hardcore, to my decision not to do homework on Sundays. I wanted that day to be for God, and–if we’re being honest–my spiritual immaturity also led me to have a fear that if I didn’t stick with it, God would smite me and I would not get a 4.0 GPA. Because, you know, He’s like that. (Not.)
Several months later, I had an ecclesiastical leader make an unsolicited comment to me about the Sabbath and studying. I was applying to universities at the time, and he reminded me that if I went to a certain one on my list I was likely to encounter many students would not study on Sundays. I could understand their viewpoint, since it was my own. But that good bishop reminded me that to learn is to become more like God. That conversation didn’t lead to me block off my entire Sunday for studying–that felt like an abuse of the day–but it did help me to understand the sacredness with which I ought to regard my schooling. That conversation is why I can’t stand to do a poor job on an assignment. I’m not learning to earn a mark; I’m learning to become more like my Father in Heaven.
All this being said, one thing I have learned from my less-than-perfect attempts to keep the Sabbath day holy is the principle of recovery. Rest. Replenishing.
In his (phenomenal) book, A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the Future, Daniel H. Pink describes how to “take a sabbath” as a means of regaining mindfulness in our lives:
Select one day a week and remove yourself from the maw. Stop working. Don’t answer your email. Ignore your voice mail. Turn off your mobile phone. Most Western religions have established a Sabbath–the seventh day of the week–as a time of peace, reflection, and prayer. Whatever your faith, consider experimenting with the practice. (And this need not be religious at all. Secular Sabbaths can be equally re-energizing.)…Sabbaths, however momentary, can be important punctuation marks in busy lives. (Riverhead Books, 2005).
This principle has helped me to feel calm during hectic semesters because I–the chronic type-A, focused, semi-workaholic student–believe in taking not one, but two days off from homework. I try to avoid homework on Sundays, and I do the same on Saturdays. I joke that Saturdays are sacred to me, too. On Sundays, I worship. On Saturdays, I play. Both help me prepare to work and serve and teach and study and collaborate very, very well Monday through Friday.
This was my day yesterday:
8 am Wake up roommates, get ready for the beach
9-11 am BEACH BEACH BEACH followed by (sun)BURN (sun)BURN (sun)BURN
11 am PLATE LUNCHES OF GLORY from Papa Ole’s (obviously ingested very, very quickly)
12 noon OMG there is a Sodalicious equivalent in Laie? Prayers of gratitude all around. (And everyone really should go check out So’Da Bomb–they’re wonderful and couldn’t be more friendly.)
2 pm Shower, nap, get dressed with no rush
4 pm Meet up with friends at the temple
6 pm Meet up with friends for sushi
8:30 pm Continue the delicious food day with homemade ice cream (okay, okay, confession–neither the ice cream nor the plate lunch were ingested quickly…I just thought I’d saved pics of them from my Snapstory…and then I realized I hadn’t…)
10:30 pm Pick up something for the linger longer meal after church tomorrow, chat with a beloved friend
12 midnight Go home wicked happy
That’s how I stay afloat each semester. I believe in working hard, and worshipping hard, and playing hard too. And I live by the counsel of a modern prophet of God, who said
In all of living, have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.
-Gordon B. Hinckley
Happy Sabbath, sweet humans. Let’s go rock this week.