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This article is from Issue 60: Nov/Dec 2012

The Spiritual Importance of Space

Why creating margin means more than just clearing your schedule.

"There aren’t enough hours in a day.”

It’s a near-constant refrain. Many of us are masters at double-booking, multi-tasking, and overcommitting—and then, when we’re too tired to stand, we look back and wonder where all the time went.
Just a short while ago, almost everything in Western society stopped one day a week. Gas stations, banks and grocery stores locked their doors at night and on Sundays. Sunday was the day when shop signs flipped to “Closed” and people got dressed up and drove to church. Those without particular religious convictions simply took the day off. Jews marked Saturday as a holy day and called it “Sabbath.” Seventh Day Adventists did likewise. Most Baptist, Methodist and Presbyterian clergy relaxed on Mondays. Irrespective of faith, society was given—and even guaranteed—a day each week when it could rest.

But not anymore.

This day went missing in the metamorphosis to a 24/7 world—and all the benefits of intentional rest and margin went with it. We’ve seen a cultural treasure stolen. Despite reassurances of convenience, safety and choice, we’ve been conned.

Today, we are charged and running 24/7. In the last 20 years in America, work is up 15 percent and leisure is down 30 percent. And things are only going to continue this path if we don’t re-learn the value of margin.

If there is to be any hope for recovering space for rest in this fast-paced life, we must first admit something is missing.

11 Years Lost

In an average life, 11 years of time are missed by living this non-stop, frenzied pace. Fifty-two days of leisure per year times an average lifespan equals more than 11 years’ worth of time.
How did it happen? The truth is, it happened so quickly and yet so gradually that no one even protested.

And the effect is monumental. Subtracting a day of rest each week can change the course of an entire life. Removing 11 years from the life expectancy of anything can’t help but have a profound effect. This is a law of the universe: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Subtract over a decade of sleep, work or education from a person’s life, and the entire character of an existence is altered. Then multiply those 11 years times, say, 300 million Americans, and the result is a lost continent of time.

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