“For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day…” (Exodus 20:11)
“The sabbath was made for humankind, and not humankind for the Sabbath…” (Mark 2:27)
I was chatting with an artist this weekend. She works two jobs and tries to fit her creative work in where she can. Deadlines mean she gets no time off.
This is common among artists I know, even those not working other jobs. After all, “30 paintings in 30 days” and “a painting a day” both presume that there are no breaks in one’s creative regimen. Many artists don’t take weekends off; they seldom take vacations. There isn’t a clear demarcation between work time and leisure time. In part this is because what we do for work is considered leisure for the rest of society.
But artists are not alone in this. It’s common in all the professions. I know a number of lawyers who work on Sundays to prepare for the coming week. Retail now runs 24/7. If you have a kid with an ‘afterschool’ job he or she is likely to work every holiday and every weekend.
Our whole society has lost the rhythm of time off. The most strenuous thing we did on Sundays in my childhood was visit relatives or friends. There were automated milk machines where a bottle cost two bits, and that was as close as we ever got to commerce.
We started by eliminating Blue Laws, but we didn’t replace Sunday with any other day in which work was forbidden. It’s a pity that we’ve done this, because it sets the neediest among us up for abuse. The Sabbath was designed to protect everyone in society from overwork: “[Y]ou shall not do any work—you, or your son or your daughter, or your male or female slave, or your ox or your donkey, or any of your livestock, or the resident alien in your towns…” (Exodus 20:10)
In the summer, I often work on weekends. That is when painting events are held. I compensate by taking a day off during the week when I can.
“I’ll sleep when I’m dead” is a terrible way to live. It’s unhealthy and counterproductive. Our creative instincts need refreshment through enforced idleness. This is especially true for those in creative fields. If God himself needed a day off after creating the Universe and everything in it, we mere mortals ought to realize that we do, too.