this is the final blog post in an eight-week series on the Way of Love.
Come back next Friday as the blog continues on all sorts of matters of faith and life.
turn. learn. pray. worship. bless. go. rest.
If you know me at all, you know that I love my sleep. I’m one of those “early to bed” types, and I find that in the dark of the winter, it can be a struggle to stay up much after the closing credits of Jeopardy. In the summer months we invoke the “you can’t go to bed while it is still light out” rule, and so ‘round ’bout the solstice can be a challenge for me… I make up for it on the other end of the day, though, and am usually up feeding the cats and pressing “brew” on the coffee machine by 5:00 AM at the latest.
Sleep is so essential. We spend more than 1/3 of our lives asleep- if it is something that comes naturally to us. As I age, I am more and more aware of the elusiveness of sleep during the wee hours of the night.
This final blog post in the series on The Way of Love considers the holy practice of rest. Rest can come in lots of forms- sleep is just the most obvious- and it is vital to our wholeness as healthy children of God.
I re-wrote my own Rule of Life this summer. One of the 30 topics that I wrote about is rest. (I highly recommend Charles LaFond’s new book, Notes to Self, for an innovative way to create and implement a Rule of Life.) Charles invites us to consider large headings of important subjects in our life (ie: relationships, work, study, the arts, etc.) and then to write small paragraphs on sub-sections in order to create a Rule of Life with 30 chapters that we can focus on, one small bit at a time, throughout the course of a month. The first topic in my Rule is “Health” and then third sub-topic under Health is “rest.” Here’s what I wrote about “rest:”
Rest is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle.
Get at least 7 hours of sleep.
Enjoy time of rest- without ‘programming’- (no tv, book, phone or internet) from time to time. Find time at least once or twice per week to enjoy a restful “sit-“ in a coffee shop, on the deck, on the porch- if only for a few minutes.
That sounds pretty easy, doesn’t it?
Not so much.
Since I wrote my new rule (in August) , I could count the number of times that I have spent enjoying a time of rest “without programming” on one hand.
Sometimes Rules of Life can be aspirational. I’m not ready, yet, to give up on spending some quiet time in peaceful rest.
It’s not that I don’t have the time. Sure, I’m busy, but I also choose to spend my time filled completely. Work, dinner, tv (Jeopardy!), email, to bed, time on my Kindle, sleep. Up and at it. Journal, prayer, gym, commute, work, etc., etc. What about that 10 minutes here and there?
I could try it. (My Rule of Life seems to think that it would be beneficial)
One wise person once asked me what I was afraid of, being unable to rest. What did I think I might see… or think… or discover? My extroverted nature draws me to people, to activity for replenishment. But being alone with myself for company might be… enlightening.
My friend Doug Fisher, the Bishop of Western Massachusetts, tells the story of hiking the Camino Santiago with his son Jeff. They are both at least 6’3”. Their stride allowed them to pass many fellow hikers on the trail, greeting them with the traditional “Buen Camino” as they passed. When Jeff sustained a muscle strain, the long-legged pair found that they had to slow their tempo… and at this more “restful” pace, they were delighted to find that they met so many more pilgrims and came to hear their stories. The benefits of rest can open new worlds to us.
How do you rest?
How do you respond to the culture of over-work in our society that tells us that working hard is good, and working harder is better?
What might you discover when- if- you spent time with yourself, just pausing, and checking out from the usual routine, taking a moment to breathe?
Try it. And see what happens.
3 thoughts on “rest”
Thank you for this. I have found that when I cannot sleep, which is an all too frequent occurrence, instead of bemoaning the loss and worrying about how the morning is going to be, I read – something edifying, something spiritual, something theological. While my mind may not be resting, it is, at least, engaged in a productive discipline of engaging with something lovely.
While the practice doesn’t fit precisely under rest, I read one comic strip a day in the newspaper. Two is too many, but one gives me a pause between reporting and editorials, in which I regain the flow of my own thoughts. This matters to me because the voices coming into my house and my mind from outside are so strident, so insistent, so opinionated, so argumentative, that I am drawn into angry, resentful, combative, critical and extreme statements in opposition or in agreement with them. I don’t mean to use those tones in my day’s work, so it’s very good to stop myself in mid-spate and laugh. The single cartoon strip I read acts like a view on a peaceful scene with endearing figures being silly about serious things. So I practice giving rest to my restive mind, after making myself presentable, reading Morning Prayer, drinking coffee and eating breakfast.
This is so important, but so hard to do in our society and with our busy lives! For me, in a season with little kids, it feels near impossible. Sometimes I sneak in a bit of rest here and there- 5 minutes of journaling (which feels restful, and often prayerful), or if I’m really lucky, a few minutes on my own with a cup of coffee in a local cafe. Thanks for the reminder to try for this more often- specifically with no programming!