There has been a lot written in recent years about the need to “unplug” on holiday and how to do it — and the fact that so few of us do it (present company included). I can say that I can generally avoid checking work emails on holidays but I stay connected for family matters. But I tried something different on the last two family vacations I had this past summer and I have to say, I think it had quite an impact on reducing both kid, daddy and mommy meltdown moments. I removed my watch — a big step for someone who lives a life ruled by time — some call it Type A personality — I actually think it’s a function of big city living combined with the perpetual struggle for work life balance. As a mother of two young children who must work out of the home, this is particularly true. You know — kids must be up by this time to get them to school by this time to make it to the office by this time to get home in time to have enough time to spend a little time before bedtime. Phew! No wonder so many of us are frazzled, stressed, time obsessed and usually burnt out by the time we take time for a holiday (and we know many Canadians don’t even take that time) or heaven forbid — a weekly sabbatical to reflect, recharge and rejuvenate, as we advocate in this site. I must say, that leaving my watch on the counter as opposed to my wrist during that time was incredibly liberating. Not only did my days feel less rushed with my family, it also somehow naturally reduced the sense of urgency around checking emails etc. Having no real sense of time helped us be more present instead of constantly wondering what we needed to do next — helped us build our fence around sacred space and time — something we know so few of us do at home in and/or with our own communities. Who knew? The trick is, can we or should we wean ourselves off the watch OFF holiday hours? Perhaps it’s worth a try.
We took the New Sabbath Project on the road over the last two weeks — well not intentionally — it’s just that we took a long overdue family vacation/sabbatical — time to rest, rejuvenate and reflect. We went on a driving tour of our marvelous country out to the east coast. On that trip we inadvertently introduced a version of New Sabbath to old friends that have understandably (as non-Jews) have never been introduced to the idea – even the pluralistic kind that we do.
We brought the food and asked my friend who is a wonderful baker to attempt my challah recipe (see photo below – fantastic). While we didn’t want to introduce the blessings as it wasn’t our home and they weren’t Jewish — my challah baker ended up asking for a blessing given a recent string of unfortunate events in her life — so we decided to try out a milder version of what we do at home.
In doing some personal blessings around the table — an uncomfortable “consciousness” practice for those unaccustomed to such things — we decided to explain why we did these Friday night gatherings/feasts as a community-building excercise in the first place. In talking about how disconnected and disengaged we felt we were from our neighbours — our communities — that we felt these dinners helped us engage our communities on a deeper level — dialogue over dinner — with a spiritual and/or religious and/or cultural component that somehow deepened the conversations. We figured the disconnect we feel was a function of big city living — but our friends who live in both rural and smaller urban settings said this was a problem in their communities as well. Quite simply, no one feels like getting to know each other or if they do, they’re too intimidated to make the first move.
These last two weeks have certainly been an amazing time for rest, rejuvenation and reflection for my family and myself. A time to reconnect to family and friends and also to ideas that often get lost in the fog of extensive to-do and to-pay lists that await at home. It has reinforced the idea that people everywhere are craving closer connections to their communities and a little more sacred space to allow for their own rest, rejuvenation and reflection.