“Remember the Sabbath and keep it sacred.”
A few years ago, neuroscientists discovered something that every child has known all along; It is important for a young child’s brain development that they play. In fact, play is more important than any kind of schoolwork.
As this research became more widespread, parents, teachers, and the child development industry all realigned their approaches to early childhood. Teachers tried to turn classroom activities into games. Parents signed their children up for all sorts of leagues and clubs. And the folks in the industry began introducing more shows, computer games, and other products into the blooming “edutainment” market. Play was everywhere.
There was just one problem: It was the wrong kind of play.
As researcher Sergio Pellis told the folks on NPR’s Morning Edition, the benefits of play are found specifically in “free play” – that means “No coaches, no umpires, no rule books.” Children benefit most from play when they are left to their own devices.
The benefits of what we in the church world call Sabbath (that is, taking a full day of true rest each week) are a lot like the benefits of play.
We’ve known for a long time that rest is important for our spiritual, physical, and mental well being, so we’ve tried to make it happen. And we’ve done that the only way we know how: with rules.
Sabbath, however, doesn’t come from strict adherence to specific rules – that’s not rest; it’s work. Sabbath happens when we identify those things which are restful for us (that is to say, they fill us with new energy) and spend time doing those things.
How will you spend your Sabbath this week?