Here we approach the end of Leviticus with the concept of the 7th year being a year of rest for the land.
Periodic rest has come up before with the idea of the Sabbath and we see it here again. Both for people and the land.
Interestingly the phrase ‘rest for the land’ implies to me some bit of stewardship. I believe there is some ecological or agricultural merit to allowing land to lie fallow for a year, though I’m not sure. And since I kill houseplants by merely glancing at them, I’m probably not the best person to ask. (Or to give a houseplant to. I do try, really, I do.) It’s not the rhetoric of subduing the land, but caring for it.
We are not currently doing a very good job of caring for the land. We don’t let it rest. Instead we push it harder and pump it full of chemicals and ruthlessly destroy it for any last bit of value with no reprieve.
Then we wonder why it’s not going so well.
We’re also not doing very well at taking care of ourselves, which also says a lot about how much we rest. Or don’t rest. America values hard work. That’s not bad, in and of itself. Hard work is good and we shouldn’t shy away from things just because they aren’t easy.
But mindlessly driving yourself into the ground to prove you can work more hours a day than the next guy isn’t good either. We’re alll stressed and burnt out an then we wonder why we’re not innovative. Why we’re not creative. Why we turn away from things like spirituality.
Because those things — creativity, innovation, spirituality — they take time. Stillness. They take stepping away from the rush and being. Until something clicks. But we don’t like those moments. Either because they scare u or because we don’t see immediate return on investment. So we push them aside and fill them with lights and noise and lists and things.
Maybe they scare us because they may lead to actual hard work. Not hard work like we think it is — dull, repetitive, putting in endless time so you seem productive. But actual hard work, of facing things and being charged to do what is not easy. To be open and still. To face ourselves.
It’s completely unrealistic, but I wonder what would happen if we had a year of rest. If we all just….stopped. If we had to focus on the little things, had time to think and create. To build connections and community, to get around to the things we’d like to manage but never quite find the time for. Because it’s what feeds our souls the most that we often put last.
I wonder what we could come up with.