Do you ever have those moments when you feel like you’re going nonstop and still not getting it all done? That definitely happens to me – those days when I wonder if I’m giving enough of myself to my job, to my family, to my husband, to me. And even if I’m able to check things off the to-do list, I feel defeated, thinking nothing is quite as great as I wanted it to be. Usually, this happens when I’m approaching the deadline for several projects at once, and it’s crunch time. I get this feeling in my core that I’m being pulled in a million different directions, but I want everything to be just right. If I stop to focus on one project, everything else suffers. I know I’m only human, but it’s terrible to think I’m letting down my family or my community when I’m unable to make sure every detail is perfect or I can’t be at every event, program, or service. What if I could actually step back and say, “This is good”? Not great, not perfect, but just good enough?
This week we read Parshat Bereshit, the first portion of the Torah. We are wowed with the story of creation, the time and care God put into creating each day, each being exactly as planned. We learn about the first humans and their experience in the Garden of Eden, how they learned to build, grow, and exist together. The Torah continues with the story of Cain and Abel, the first sibling rivalry gone awry, and the very real consequences put into place after each of these events. God is like a parent birthing new life or like a CEO organizing her staff, figuring out each day what is necessary to be done and when there is time to stop, step back, and simply take it all in.
When we talk about the story of creation, we tend to think of the seventh day as the only time God rested. But since this parshah suggests different creative acts on each day, there must have been at least a brief rest between each day. In fact, as God goes about the creation of the world, God pauses at the end of each day and says, “It was good.” On day one there was the simple separation, and then a stop until day two. On day two there’s more creation, and it was good. Day three, a little bit more. You get the idea. There is something remarkable in the fact that God was able to stop at the end of each day of creation, take in what had been done, and simply stop until it was time to add the next layer.
Sometimes we feel as if we live nonstop lives in a world that also never stops. With tiny computers in our hands all day, there is always an email to be answered, a Facebook post to check, bills to pay, and work to be done. It’s not easy to simply slow down, let alone stop. How can we possibly let go of our desire to produce more, and instead look at what we’ve produced and say it is good? Parshat Bereshit teaches us that we must. Each day, we must take note of when we’ve done enough for the day and give ourselves permission to step back, take it all in, and celebrate our accomplishments. If God can save some of the work for tomorrow, so can we.