March 6, 2016, will go down in my personal history book as one of the more challenging days of my life. My hard drive crashed. And it didn't just stop working—everything was lost. Then I discovered that my Time Machine backup had failed in recent attempts to back up my work. Actually, two years of work was lost, including the initial work on this book.
It was Sunday, the day after my husband's stepfather's memorial service. We were in Gig Harbor, Washington, at his sister's, getting ready to drive home to Couer d'Alene, Idaho. I flipped open my laptop so I could pull up emails to go through as we drove. The screen was frozen. I shut it down and turned it back on. I'd done that drill before. But this time it gave me a weird message and nothing worked.
I scheduled a Genius Bar appointment at the Apple Store as we headed down the freeway; they'd always fixed everything in the past. We went straight there before going home.
And I learned the bad news.
I felt numb the rest of the day—as if I'd lost a dear friend.
As I sat in the quiet of my office that evening, I asked the questions I always do in challenging moments: What is the meaning in this? What can I learn? Then it dawned on me. The hard drive crashed on Sunday. Hadn't I struggled for quite a while to just rest on the Sabbath, or the day of rest, as it's also known? For Christians, the day of rest is Sunday; for Jews, it runs from sundown.
"Remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy" (Ex. 20:8).
Marci Alborghetti quotes a Jewish woman in Daily Guideposts 2016: "[The Sabbath is] a 24-hour period during which we admit we are not as important as we think, and God's world goes on without us." How important did I think I was, and how important was my work? I went to church faithfully, but that was where the rest ended. The remainder of the day I worked. I always thought I had so much to do—emails to answer, a newsletter to write for my Monday e-blast and usually a book to write—on and on it went. Typically, I'd start my workdays by answering e-mails, many times before prayer, and end my day doing the same just before I fell into bed, exhausted. My life felt out of order most of the time, and especially on my day of rest.
According to Abraham Joshua Heschel, the Sabbath is "a palace in time which we build." As one writer says, "It's not a day of rest before work; you work in order to experience this day of elevation ... Even successful lives need these sanctuaries." My Sabbath day of rest took on new meaning. What a message; what a lesson! I now do my very best to start each day with prayer and devotional reading before anything else.
This led me to think about fasting in light of the busyness and drivenness we all get trapped in from time to time—or all the time. In Wisdom from the Monastery, Peter Seewald says, "When we fast we let everything go—all the things that we dragged around with us, all the things that clung and stuck to us. The weight under which we were collapsing was our own."
From time to time, we all need to fast from work, busyness, overload, crazy-making behavior and overachieving. We all need a day of rest and a life that is in order with intervals of rest. This is part of the spirituality of fasting, part of an ordered life.
But resting is even more crucial when we embark on a period of fasting. This is the time to slow down and let some things go. The e-mails will wait as well as the callbacks. All the "must-dos" can stack up for a little while. You can still get your work done, but more time should be devoted to prayer, meditating, reading and relaxing. (Yes, relaxing is permitted in the 21st century.) This is the time to quiet your heart and mind and listen to your soul.
Cherie Calbom, MSN, is known as The Juice Lady, TV chef and celebrity nutritionist, and has helped in pioneering the fresh-juice movement around the world. A graduate of Bastyr University with a Master of Science in whole-foods nutrition, Calbom is the author of 31 books. She has worked as a nutritionist with George Foreman and Richard Simmons and has appeared on numerous radio and TV shows and in scores of magazine articles. She and her husband offer Health and Wellness Juice and Raw-Foods Retreats throughout the year. This passage is an excerpt from her new book, The Juice Lady's Guide to Fasting.
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