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Keep the Sabbath Holy

By Samuel Barton     2/13/24 9:58pm

Editor’s Note: This is a guest opinion that has been submitted by a member of the Rice community. The views expressed in this opinion are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of the Thresher or its editorial board. All guest opinions are fact-checked to the best of our ability and edited for clarity and conciseness by Thresher editors.

Rice students are no strangers to burnout. Optimism at the start of a semester turns into dread as the grind wears us down and we wonder how we will fit all our weekly commitments into a mere 168 hours. 

I don’t claim to be any different; I’ve struggled against the cult of busyness my whole time at Rice, sometimes letting work fill my every waking moment while desperately trying to keep up with two STEM majors, two campus jobs and two extracurriculars. But during my sophomore year, I made the best decision of my college career, radically changing the way I approach my workload. I started following the Fourth Commandment: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.” 



The Hebrew word “qadash,” which here is translated to “holy,” means “to be set apart or consecrated” — Christianity claims that God designed humans to set apart one day in seven for rest and worship. I decided to make my Sundays holy by doing no schoolwork. Full stop. No exceptions for weeks with a ton of work. No exceptions for weeks where I procrastinated. No exceptions for COMP 310. Whatever happened during the week, my Sundays would be sacred. 

Agnes Ho, the director of the Student Wellbeing Office, has previously reminded students that they “deserve to take a break.” Students should take regular breaks from their work, but Sabbath rest is in a different category entirely. Making a day holy means setting it apart before scheduling anything else, therefore recognizing it as the most important part of your week.  

When I started taking a Sabbath I thought I would struggle to get my work done with less time each week, but the much needed rest allows me to be more productive in the following week. I thought scheduling work with others would become difficult, but nobody has pushed back when I simply tell them that Sunday is not an option for me. Taking Sunday off, rather than making the rest of my week more stressful, made it less so. The day began to feel like something special, and I often find myself on Saturday thinking about “tomorrow” as Monday, with the day of rest completely set apart from my regular calendar. 

I fear that too many Rice students are so stressed they don’t even think about taking a break, even when it would let them come back to their work refreshed and more productive. My decision to start taking a Sabbath has given me time every week that is set aside to worship God, spend quality time with the people I care about and rest. 

It is way too easy to get caught up in the endless stream of things that need doing during the semester and forget the importance of rest. For students who are overwhelmed by all the work they have to do, Sabbath rest can paradoxically be the exact thing that makes you more productive and able to complete the week’s work. 

As a part of Rice’s Culture of Care, we should be encouraging those around us to schedule weekly time away from school so that we keep our priorities straight. Regardless of course load, jobs or extracurriculars, all of us could use a block of time that is set apart in which we can rest. So take time to schedule your rest before scheduling anything else. Pick a time during the week and remember to make it holy.



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