Our culture exalts hard work; exhaustion is a status symbol and napping is a waste of time. When asked, “how are you?” how often do we respond “tired”? As a sleep deprived mom, I can tell you that I respond with “tired” A LOT. There are times and seasons in life where tiredness is unavoidable, and this is not meant to shame anyone in the midst of a season of tiredness. Maybe most especially in those seasons where sleep and rest are hard to come by, it’s important to examine what is fulfilling rest and what is not. A nap or Netflix? Watching a nostalgic show that brings joy or watching the news? We talk about a spiritual practice, those things that fulfill us spiritually, prayer, study, community. Have you thought about rest as a spiritual practice? In fact, in the stories of our faith ancestors, rest is commanded by God,
Remember the Sabbath day and treat it as holy. Six days you may work and do all your tasks, but the seventh day is a Sabbath. Do not do any work on it—not you, your sons or daughters, your male or female servants, your animals, or the immigrant who is living with you. Because YHWH made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything that is in them in six days, but rested on the seventh day. That is why YHWH blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
As this text from Exodus recalls, in our creation story in Genesis, God models rest.
The heavens and the earth and all who live in them were completed. On the sixth day God completed all the work, and on the seventh day God rested. God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all the work of creation. This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.
God not only commands rest, but models it. This weekend, find time to rest. A whole day, a few hours, moment to moment. Seek intentional, soul-filling, life-giving rest. Or, if you aren’t able to set aside time to rest right now, reflect on what kind of rest would be restorative and when you can make time for whatever that may be.
Take a deep breath.
Use these words of mediation if they resonate for you.
until I hear my own heartbeat
until I feel my breathing
to the cadence of the cosmos
one with the rhythms of the Holy
Written by Elizabeth Ullery Swenson, inspired by a piece by Jan Richardson