For many of us who grew up in a traditional school system, July meant
“vacation”– time off from classwork, a break from the usual stressful
obligations of childhood. Now as adults, our obligations have changed.
We have long to-do lists in our homes and at our jobs. And as Unitarian
Universalists, we are also aware of the work that needs to be done in
the larger world – to build more inclusive communities, to fight
injustice, and to protect our planet. July arrives with its sights and
smells serving as nostalgic reminders of childhood summer breaks, but it
can seem self-indulgent, even wrong, to take a break when there is so
much left to do.
And yet dedicated time for rest is itself an important “to do.” The
19th century labor movement fought to limit work hours for the wellbeing
of employees. Professional truck drivers are required to take ten hours
off the road between their daily driving shifts to ensure greater
Many of us were pleased to hear that some tech companies have started
offering employees unlimited vacation, allowing workers to take time off
whenever they want or need it. But recent research on such policies has
shown they can result in employees taking even less time off than they
did before. Workers became concerned that they would be seen as abusing
the policy or that they would fall behind in their competitive careers.
Most of us aren’t in highly competitive tech careers, but are there
other fears that prevent us from taking time for rest and renewal? Fear
of being seen as selfish? Fear of facing who we are without our paid or
volunteer work? Fear of missing out on something new or exciting? ←
this is my big one
Perhaps such fears are to be expected and are why the “Ten Commandments”
of the Hebrew scriptures include a required day of holy rest each week,
the Sabbath. Jewish tradition teaches that even God rested after 6 days
of creative work.
I encourage you to take some time for holy rest this month of July. The
work of creation will still be here for you to return to with a renewed
spirit. I will be on vacation for much of this month myself. If you
have any care needs in this time, reach out to the office to be put in
touch with congregational supports. I look forward to returning to our
work together in August!