By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. Genesis 2:2-3 (NIV)
I come from a long line of Puritans. My forbearers were in the American colonies beginning at Jamestown. As a girl, I visited that historic site and saw a plaque dedicated to an ancestor whose kindness to a Native American helped save the entire colony from massacre. I felt good knowing what strong stock I descended from. But, what I inherited from those who came before me even more than a sense of pride, was the necessity for work. Historians may debate the theory of the Puritan Work Ethic, but I am a living and breathing example of it. I always have a to do list before me. If I am at my job, my day is filled with tasks to help keep the organization running smoothly and the employees content. At home, I have floors to scrub, cabinets to clean, food to cook and beds to make. There are neighbors to help, committees to serve on, studies to complete, and lessons to teach. Flower gardens need weeding, dogs bathed, children clothed and stalls mucked. I even take something that should be fun and turn it into work. I ride my horse to get exercise. If I read a book, it is for my edification. I rarely watch television and usually only when I am also folding laundry or some other household task. I work because it needs to be done. I work because I have been taught to. I work because it makes me feel good. I work because I have become my work. Until this year. When I turned fifty, I began allowing myself some indulgences. I went with friends to Folk School. Upon coming home, I bought more glass and a grinder. I took a class in beading and now practice, what I call “therapy”: stringing bits of glass onto a cord. It is no wonder that beading is a common practice in recreation at mental health facilities. I have begun making some choices based on what is best for me which is not an easy thing to do. I spend more time with friends and look for opportunities to play. While I am not yet a card carrying member of the “me generation,” I did engage in one activity this week that might go on my list as the ultimate indulgence. I had a massage. That was the shortest hour of my life, and if I could have found a way to stay longer, I would have. I was so relaxed that when I called a friend on my way home, she said, “You sound like you are drunk.” It is not healthy for us to live continually for our work. While I have no intention of giving up my job (well, not yet, I’m still a ways off from retirement) and cannot afford to hire a maid, I do intend to try to find a better balance of work and rest. God created us for work and for rest. I just forgot to do the latter.