Monday Morning of the Soul

Western society is much indebted to the Hebrew Bible and the culture it has engendered. Nowhere is this more evident than the now hallowed concept of the weekend. Most of our time increments are determined by the movements of celestial bodies – the sun marks our days and years, the moon keeps our months rolling along. But the seven-day week is a bit of an anomaly. We know that the ancient Babylonians experimented with the seven-day idea, but it was the Hebraic concept of the Sabbath that provided us with a regular day off.

Ancient agrarian societies knew no “days of rest.” The old saying, often attributed to nineteenth-century American farmers, states that your cows require milking, even on the Lord’s day. Life in ancient times, for most individuals, was a daily slog, repetitive, long, and repetitive, of struggling to survive. The idea that you could take a break from survival to relax and not work simply did not equate. A break from survival is the same as death. When ancient priests – city-dwellers, no doubt – decreed that Saturday was a special day because even the Almighty needs a little Miller-time, well, the idea caught on. Society, once it had become sufficiently urbanized, could allow one day off a week.

Fast forward to the Christian contribution. Early followers of Jesus were Jewish and therefore already sold on the Sabbath concept. The resurrection, they asserted, took place on Sunday, so it was appropriate to worship on that day as well. A two-day worship minimum had been established. To many ancient folks this looked like laziness with a religious blush. Nevertheless, it caught on. Now many of us in a leisure-based society, with white-collar work that usually can handle being put off a couple days without immanent starvation or over-lactation, live for the weekend. Constraints of doing it for “the man” are off, we are free to be who we really are. Two-sevenths of the time, anyway.

Religions have given the world special gifts. As another dreadful Monday morning forces us out of bed early and focuses our eyes on a distant Friday afternoon, we should remember to thank Judaism and Christianity for their combined worshipful sensitivities. If it weren’t for them, we would have endless weeks of Mondays.