Breathe: Lessons from the Sabbath

Cylon George, campus chaplain, Guest Contributor


There is little doubt that college is a very busy time in a person’s life. It often feels like running from crisis to crisis: papers due, exams, pop quizzes, group projects.

There’s scarcely a moment to breathe. I sympathize with the feeling. I remember my college days very vividly and how I felt during periods of intense stress. Sometimes I would have anxiety attacks. It felt like something heavy was on my chest that prevented me from breathing. College stress is very real. However, the good news is that it doesn’t have to control you. You can choose to breathe.

The religious tradition of the Sabbath can offer some insights to help a busy college student navigate stressful times. Observed by Jews, Christians and Muslims, the Sabbath is a day of rest from daily worldly activities to worship God. It is also a day to be refreshed and renewed.

In his book “A Day Apart”, Christopher Ringwald writes of the Sabbath: “On the day apart we are free. We are not pack animals, day by day trudging wearily through the world of gain and loss.”

The Sabbath give us space to reflect on, and give meaning to the work we do. It is a day to give thanks for the blessings in one’s life: friends, family, work, food, health.

So, what lessons can be drawn from this tradition?

First, it reminds us that we are finite beings with finite resources.

Second, this knowledge is a reminder to take some time in order to do things that refresh and renew you physically, emotionally and spiritually. You do not need to take an entire day to replenish these precious resources. It can be done in a few moments out of your day or week.

Third, do this even when you feel like you cannot due to the pull of many urgent tasks. You will gain the valuable gift of perspective to help you see that some pressing things are not as important as they seem. It will allow you to let them go of them so that you can focus on what truly needs to be attended to right now.

Many students are not aware of the fact that the college has set aside a space on campus for such purposes. The Interfaith Prayer Room offers a non-denominational space for quiet reflection to all students. Perhaps you need some quiet time before facing a difficult exam. Maybe you had an uncomfortable exchange with a friend or loved one before coming to campus. Perhaps you are just overwhelmed and simply need to sit in silence.

By taking advantage of this space, you can experience mini-Sabbaths to break up those busy periods. If you’d like to visit, the Interfaith Prayer Room is located on the second floor of the Siek Campus Center next to the Student Activities Office.

May you find time to breathe this semester.


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