This chapter on Sabbath is so meaty, I am not done working through it yet, so here is another entry on Sabbath.
[from An Altar in the World by Barbara Brown Taylor]
"Anyone who practices Sabbath for even an afternoon usually suffers a little spell of Sabbath sickness. Try it and you too may be amazed by how quickly your welcome rest begins to feel like something closer to a bad cold. Okay, that was nice. Okay, you're ready to get back to work now... You are beginning to feel sluggish.... What if you get used to this and never want to go back to work? Plus, how will you ever catch up after taking a whole day off? Just thinking about it makes me tired. Is weeding the garden work if you enjoy it? Is looking through a catalog really shopping? This, I think, is how the rabbis were finally forced to spell out all the kinds of work that are forbidden on the Sabbath - because people kept trying to get to yes instead of no."
I feel so much better when I say yes. I have a friend who once insisted that I have the spiritual gift of helps because of the compulsion I have at times to jump into something in an effort to make it go smoothly for someone else - whether this is at a wedding when I have no official role or at my son's school when a new family walks into meet the teacher day and I volunteer to walk them to their room (and I'm not working at the time). Helps never comes up on my gifts inventories, though. I think in a way it is this compulsion to say "yes."
Recently I received an email from my son's school, asking me to coordinate the fall book fair. I love the book fair! I am crazy about books and I usually set aside my own stash of money to buy things at the book fair for myself. I blog about books every day. And I love to say "yes." I said maybe, which is a good step in the right direction. I mentioned it to my father who said, "And you said, 'I would be happy to volunteer but I can't coordinate it,' right?" My husband was more subtle, pointing out that I have been expressing a lot of dissatisfaction with the lack of balance in my life and the feeling that I am trying to do too much. But I prefer to say "yes." It seemed like a timely test of my resolve to simplify my life and practice saying "no." So, I said no.
I felt guilty, like I was letting people down. But at the same time, when I listed my priorities and the peripheral things I want to get done someday, there was no reasonable room for another responsibility.
So, how are you at saying "no?"