Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Weary World Rejoices

Well, I must confess that it feels a little absurd to lift that line out of context and compare the rejoicing of the whole world regarding the incarnation of their Savior with the inane subject of Sunday afternoon R&R, but the "rules" of the Christmas Blog Challenge allow for such liftings without exposition of the original glorious meaning of the lyrics or acknowledgement of the banality of their new application.  So please bear with me.  I mean no disrespect!

I love Sunday afternoon R&R.  The original meaning of the phrase--rest and relaxation, I believe--has been expanded in this case to include any number of other r-activities: rest, relax, read, reflect, renew, refresh.  Ah, but I'm getting ahead of myself.

The practice of "quiet play time" was begun when my children were very young, as soon as they were old enough to give up taking two naps a day and went to only one.  The time of the morning nap was continued, but with "quiet play time" taking its place.  Mommy still got two times during the day away from the constancy of toddler-mothering--and at least one time away from everyone, once younger siblings came along and the children's naps were on different schedules.  This was good for everyone involved, and so was continued even once all napping ceased for a particular child, somewhere around the age of five.  "Quiet play time" was part of our kids' homeschool afternoons throughout many years of childhood, until the school load became intense enough that they could no longer spare the time.

This school year, however--when all of our school days are packed from morning gathering at 6:30 AM until bedtime whenever schoolwork is completed--it occurred to us that we will all always convince ourselves that we simply "cannot spare the time."  I remember my first introduction to the idea of the "tyranny of the urgent" in college, via Charles Hummel's book of the same name.  How frequently the urgent thing beats out the important thing in our schedules!  The thing-with-the-pressing-deadline or the thing-with-the-fixed-start-time will always win out if we let it, and that which is pressing in the short term will crowd out that which is pressing in the long term.  How subtly we begin to forgo that which will nourish our souls, without even realizing we're doing it.

So this year, after reading the wonderful book Sleep: It Does A Family Good, we began putting R&R time on the weekly schedule and fiercely guarding it.  Sunday afternoon opportunities are weighed carefully, and are only rarely allowed to break into the sacred Sunday-from-two-to-five time slot.

Sunday afternoon R&R does not always consist of a nap, though the findings of the sleep scholars that were put forth in the aforementioned sleep book bear repeating.  They have discovered--quite contrary to what we've always been told (which is that "you can neither 'make up' nor 'bank' sleep" and that "lost sleep is lost forever")--that extra daytime sleep, as long as it occurs within about ten days of the "lost" sleep that deprived us of our usual restorative amount, can make up for and correct the ill-effects of that lost sleep.  (It is interesting to me that the "within ten days" caveat discovered by the researchers--who were not Christians and made no reference or even connection to the Judeo-Christian Sabbath--pretty much assures that a regular practice of a weekly "day of rest" will always fall within ten days of whatever lost sleep threatens to lead to sleep deprivation!  How wise and loving our God is in His requirements of us, which are always ultimately for our good!)

That said, I always lie down during Sunday afternoon R&R and attempt to fall asleep.  If my body is tired and needs the extra rest, I can usually fall asleep quite easily.  Sometimes I sleep a short time and awaken refreshed and alert.  Sometimes I crash out into a "sleep like death," as we call it, and awaken after several hours, groggy and still terribly sleepy.  This serves me well, too, though, as it alerts me to the fact that I'm likely skimping too much on my nightly sleep during the week and that  I need to be more careful about re-establishing and guarding a good bedtime and wake time.

My children have varying opinions on naps--whether they like them, and whether they find that they affect that night's sleep for them.  But regardless of our differing opinions regarding the actual Sunday afternoon nap, we've all come to appreciate the forced, scheduled time to do that-which-we-don't-usually-make-time-for-during-the-week (but which we find refreshing, relaxing, and restorative).  The only "rule" is that it must be an "alone" activity--like "quiet play time" was those many years ago. Reading a book for pleasure... putting in some good time writing (a particular favorite for my author son)... catching up on correspondence... knitting... whatever... If you find it relaxing and restful and restorative, there's a time for it carved out each week, for your benefit and blessing.

Today, my R&R time involved a quick nap--I fell asleep with my hand resting on the warm palm of my dear, snoring husband--followed by this time blogging.  This is an activity I deeply enjoy--capturing a swirl of thoughts and feelings and trying to coalesce them into some meaningful communication that makes sense--and rarely take time for amid the hustle and bustle of our daily days and their busy-ness. How thankful I am that R&R time provides a guarantee for weekly refreshment, and that the annual Twelve-Days-of-Christmas Blog Challenge forces my hand to the blogging thing.  If nothing else, I'll try to capture some meaningful "memory moments" for my children to read one day, if they're ever so inclined. In the meantime, it's good for me.  Indeed, the "weary world rejoices" when forced from its franticity into deliberate pursuit of rest

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