When Sunday comes around I am always transported to memories of my childhood days when Sunday was treated as a Day of Rest. Most stores were closed so you couldn’t go shopping, there was no internet, no one went to work on that day, some people went to church; but for the most part, everyone just sat around and rested from the busyness of a week of work or school.
I recall many Sundays when, after church, we just sat around and basically “hung out” – sometimes we went watched TV or took a walk or a nap. We always gathered for an evening meal, but mostly we just “hung out.”
I wonder if nowadays people even know what it means to “do nothing” but rest for a spell. Many people work on Sundays and even if they don’t go to work they will likely spend the weekend at a home computer doing the work they couldn’t get to during the week. In our own times, many people use Sundays and weekends to catch up on tasks like household chores or shopping; and of course every minute of available time is often spent checking smartphones or browsing the social media.
According to today’s standards I guess you might say that, “back in the day” Sundays were pretty boring; but in retrospect I always enjoyed that Day of Rest – that day of “hanging out and doing nothing.” There was something very restorative about it.
I am reminded of something I once read from Thich Nhat Hanh's book, Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise.
In music there are moments of 'rest,' of no sound.
If those spaces weren't there, it would be a mess.
Music without moments of silence would be chaotic and oppressive.
That space between notes is very, very powerful, very meaningful.
It is more eloquent than any sound,
The soundless can be more pleasant, more eloquent than any sound.
As I write this blog article I am listening to some classical music, so I decided to pay closer attention to the music of "no sounds," the importance of the rests and spaces, and I discovered that the music I was listening to was brimming with interpretive pauses and poignant rests. The entire piece had a whole new meaning because of the spaces. Without the pauses the piece would have indeed sounded chaotic and instead of eliciting a sense of serenity, it would have provoked anxiety.
In his book, Thich Nhat Hanh wasn't talking about music because he is a music critic but because he is a spiritual guide. The lesson we can learn about the importance of spaces in music is a lesson we can learn about the importance of making spaces on a spiritual path.
In some sense our lives do indeed flow on like a musical composition, and it seems to me that in this busy and chaotic world of everyday living there are few spaces in that music.
How easy it would be to punctuate the daily routine of everyday living with meaningful, mindful "no-sounds, " maybe a breathing space of a minute or so in the middle of sending out the endless emails and making the reports, just pause and rest from time to time, mindfully awake, a little rest in the music of life? Or maybe what we all need to do is to commit to being more intentional about taking a “Day of Rest?”
The renowned Jazz composer-trumpeter, Miles Davis, once said this of his music:
The space you leave is as important as the sound you make.