November Tips for a Day of Rest
October 31, 2017
I love reading books about productivity. Even though they are often written with the business leader or entrepreneur in mind, I find a lot of wisdom for my work as a homeschooling parent, story editor, and church leader. Recently, I’ve been noticing a recurring question coming up in a lot of my reading: If you were to die now, what would you want your eulogy to be about?
I’ll be honest — I don’t like that question. Whenever I spend more than a few minutes thinking about my own death, I get a bit teary and more than a little anxious. But the sentiment behind this question is worth considering. What is important in life? Am I paying attention to it? Am I asleep to the things I value most, or am I fully embracing the most precious elements of my life?
Death has a way of snapping us back into the present, reminding us of our finite nature and the gift of life we are stewarding. When we connect with the natural world, even the slow decay of autumn can bring us into a more centered place by reminding us of the temporal nature of this world and posing the question, What will you do today to embrace the life that has been given to you?
This November, Martin and Sylvia’s family are pausing in this kind of emotional space. After suffering through a lackluster morning in the tall house with lots of windows, they witness Mr. Brown’s tender feelings of gratitude for his terminally-ill brother — and the whole family begins to awaken more fully to the precious gifts all around them. In the context of this somber but gentle reminder, their senses are opened to the beauty around them — and they all respond with joyful gratitude on their first November Day of Rest.
What can we learn from Martin and Sylvia’s November Day of Rest? Here are a few ways to follow their example:
Acknowledge the doldrums. In the northern hemisphere, this is the time of year that can threaten to drain the joy right out of life. As the natural world tucks itself in for the winter, it’s hard to resist going right along with it in spirit. But we are not bears, we do not hibernate, and so we can choose to use our distinctly human efforts and creative skills to acknowledge the gray skies — but then to be present to the warmth and delight.
Shake up your routine. Just as Martin and Sylvia’s family needed a change, we ourselves can sometimes benefit by embracing spontaneity or responding to a friend in need when energy feels low. Even if you don’t have a Mr. Brown in your life calling for an extra set of hands, look for opportunities to present themselves: a volunteer opportunity, a family outing to a new coffee shop, a visit to see an elderly friend, or a trip to a craft store. Varying your routine for even a couple of hours can work wonders to infuse your Day of Rest with a fresh sense of purpose and restoration.
Connect with the natural world. Martin and Sylvia’s family are pretty good at staying in touch with nature, but even this model family needed a little extra nudge to go outside and notice the landscape. As the German proverb goes, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.” Put on a few extra layers for your next Day of Rest and see what you can find out there.
Open your senses. There is something about a November day that can turn us into turtles, convincing us to draw back into our shells for protection. But attuning yourself to your surroundings will help you connect to all that is good and glorious in the world. Whether you are outside or inside, listen fully; breathe deeply; look closely; touch gently; taste eagerly. Using all of your senses to the full will heighten your ability to delight in those most precious moments.
Be together. Sometimes we really need community to help us notice the bright spots. Martin and Sylvia have each other, their parents, and the lambs to augment their own observation skills. Who is it for you? Spend time together with your loved ones, connecting in the warmth of your closest relationships. Whether you speak in candlelit quiet or in a hayfield with leaping livestock, a few moments spent sharing what is most precious to you will give you all an increased appreciation for the goodness of life.
Listen to the first free story HERE and read more about getting started with a Day of Rest.
Read the October Day of Rest tips HERE.
About the Author
Literary Editor and Continuity Director
Ann is a writer, editor, homeschooling mother, voracious reader, full-fat baker, and musician. She lives in Chicago with her husband and two daughters and chronicles the journey at Boyds’ Nest News.
About Martin & Sylvia Day of Rest
Martin and Sylvia’s Momma and Daddy both work and share the responsibilities of keeping a home. They like the balance between home and work, but they do regularly feel tired, overwhelmed, and too busy with all the details of their day-to-day life. When Momma’s assistant Amy gives her a book that could “benefit the whole family,” she is surprised and delighted that it’s all about the importance and practice of a full "Day of Rest". And thus begins a year-long project to build the perfect day of rest for their family.