The Sabbath, How About A Day of Rest? A Health Advocates Perspective

child lying down in a field of daisies
The Sabbath, How About A Day of Rest? A Health Advocates Perspective

About the Author

Gary J. Machan

Gary J. Machan

Gary Machan serves on the Community Advisory Research Committee for the Canadian Index of Wellbeing. Through the course of his career he has received several provincial awards including the 2nd Stage of Medicare, Ontario Tobacco Network Innovation Award for Excellence, and Food Champion Award. In addition, Mr. Machan is an associate with the Centre for Inner Freedom where his work was featured by Tom Harpur in his best selling book ‘Finding the Still Point’.

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At the risk of dating myself, there was a time in Oakville when there used to be a sense of relative calm on Sundays. Most stores were empty and churches full. The downtown core was relatively quiet. The parks were full of families with young children, playing on teeter totters, or aiming for the sky on swings without safety harnesses.

I should know as I was one of those children. And even later as a teenager, I used to love walking through the old part of Oakville on Sunday mornings. Never more so than in the Spring when the leaves and blossoms were out in full form. Granted it wasn’t something I talked a lot about for fear of being seen as somewhat suspect by my peers.

So too, I can distinctly recall when Sunday shopping was first introduced, and the heated debate that ensued. While I didn’t really have a firm position on it one way or the other, there was something that struck me as inherently flawed in the argument about how this would be good for our economy. It’s not like anyone I knew received more money to spend …

While Sunday shopping is most certainly here to say, this does not however preclude us from observing the Sabbath as a day of rest. Bear in mind, one could fill a library with the number of books and journals that speak to the impact of stress on both our physical and emotional health; illnesses ranging from hypertension to mood disorders.

Indeed, why the sudden explosion in depression, soon to become the number one chronic illness by 2020, if not because of the frantic pace by which we live and the false gods we serve, not the least of which is the god of money. I have no issue with money, only when it becomes an object of devotion and the yardstick of progress.

On this topic, I find it telling that the very last thing Oliver Sacks chose to write about in his long and very distinguished career was devoted to the Sabbath. In the final chapter, of his book on Gratitude, he refers to Nobel Prize winner, Robert Johns, as sharing with him “how extremely beautiful the observance of Sabbath is”.

Imagine, this a quote from coming from the lips of an economist no less. Wonder what he would say about Sunday shopping. Oh-veh.

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