Shabbat Gives Us the Permission We All Need to Reflect and Grow

To grow into our best selves, we must first allow ourselves to unwind and recharge.

Martin Barraud/ Getty Images
Martin Barraud/ Getty Images

Fifty years ago author John Gardner coined the term “repotting” in his book Self-Renewal. Repotting is the act of examining how you want to be in the world and changing your actions, your thinking, even the people you hang out with, accordingly. After all, you have to be willing to start growing again if you want to create a new bloom.

This concept makes intuitive sense to gardeners. When houseplants mature, their roots continue to grow and double back over each other. There comes a time when new growth calls for a different pot. It may be a time where new growth requires picking up roots and replanting yourself in a new location for a while. Oftentimes, however, the repotting you need is accomplished by simply creating the time and space to refresh, rest, and recharge.

Shabbat, the ancient Jewish ritual, provides for that repotting every single week. According to Jewish history, God commanded people to observe Shabbat; in fact it is the fourth of our 10 commandments. Like the very concept of repotting, the concept of Shabbat emanates from the story of creation in the biblical garden of Eden. After seven days of creating the universe, even God needed a rest — and since we are all made in God’s image (all atheists should just flow with the analogy here), we are commanded to rest. Because when we rest we reflect upon where we’ve been, where we are and where we want to go. Give yourself the gift of that special Shabbat time and space this coming year; help create it for those you love.

I’m writing this on a blustery December weekend. Yesterday (Shabbat) I decided to practice what I preach and took a nap. It was the most deliciously cozy and refreshing time-out I’ve had in months. I gave myself full permission, pulled the shades, turned off all the lights and hibernated. D-i-v-i-n-e.

I awoke feeling the guilty pleasure associated with sleeping during the day in our “go go go” culture. More than that I felt that I had done something important for myself; I felt clear headed and energized. 

We live in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world where gifts like Shabbat are only as good as our willingness to accept them.

My wish for you as we approach 2019 is that you create the right conditions for a repotting of your own making. I have created a worksheet to help you begin. Will you get to travel and grow roots in new soil? Will you surround yourself by new ways of thinking by exposing yourself to new ideas and conversations? Will you take some risks and engage with people who are different from yourself? Whatever your choice, I challenge you to live your life to the fullest and share the very best of yourself. The world will be a better place.

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