This past Friday afternoon I sat in a gazebo surrounded by trees and squirrels—immersing myself in nature to melt away the layers of effort and tension that formed during my workweek. I listened acutely for all the surrounding sounds—the birds chirping, the squirrels squeaking, the golf cart across the way beeping as it backed up out of its parking spot. I let myself surrender into the moment and be fully present.
One moment a jeep was driving up the hill and it reminded me of my mother’s classic story of how she first felt the impact of refraining from technology on Shabbat (i.e. the Sabbath). She was hiking in Israel on a college trip, and she made the conscious decision to not ride in the jeep that was taking most of her peers up the mountain. She felt a stillness that Shabbat that she had never felt before, and she was sure that had she gone on a ride in the jeep she would not have sensed it.
Like Sabbath observers, Henry David Thoreau wanted to take a break from technology. Although he did it by different means—living in the woods for two years—I think part of his goal was similar to that of the Sabbath. To quiet the noises of the world, to reconnect with nature, and to reconnect with oneself.