So I am reading this new (for me) book called, Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight In Our Busy Lives, by Wayne Muller, and when I got to this passage my whole body started vibrating in recognition of the truth of what he was saying:
While recovering from a life-threatening illness, he writes, he realized that,
“I had always assumed that people I loved gave energy to me, and people I disliked took it away from me. Now I see that every act, no matter how pleasant or nourishing, requires effort, consumes oxygen. Every gesture, every thought, or every touch uses some life.”
Yes! This is what I have never been able to articulate to people who try and encourage me to “get out of the house and go do something.”
Say, for example, I wanted to go to the yarn store. Well, it’s not just “going to the yarn store.” It’s getting up, taking off my pajamas, showering, getting dressed, organizing things like purse and keys, opening the garage door, getting into the car, getting settled in the car, driving to the yarn store, parking, walking to the front door, stepping inside, being present with whoever is currently there, detaching from the people there, walking back to the car, driving home, taking off my clothes, and then putting my pajamas back on. And that doesn’t even include all the energy needed to look through patterns, decide on a project, find yarn for the project, and make my purchase.
“This is a useful discovery for how our days go. We meet dozens of people, have so many conversations. We do not feel how much energy we spend on each activity, because we imagine we will always have more energy at our disposal. This one little conversation, this one extra phone call, this one quick meeting, what can it cost? But it does cost, it drains yet another drop of our life. then, at the end of days, weeks, months, years, we collapse, we burn out, and cannot see where it happened. It happened in a thousand unconscious events, tasks, and responsibilities that seemed easy and harmless on the surface but that each, one after the other, used a small portion of our precious life.
…If we do not allow for a rhythm of rest in our overly busy lives, illness becomes our Sabbath-our pneumonia, our cancer, our heart attack, our accidents create Sabbath for us. In my relationships with people suffering with cancer, AIDS, and other life-threatening illness, I am always struck my the mixture of sadness and relief they experience when illness interrupts their overly busy lives. While each shares their particular fears and sorrows, almost every one confesses some secret gratefulness. ‘Finally,’ they say, ‘at last. I can rest.’ “