Rest is Resistance

Rest is Resistance

I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
— from “The Peace of Wild Things” by Wendell Berry

Over the past few years the pandemic forced us to slow down, to be faced with stillness, offering space to be introspective with a lot of the noise of the everyday grind having fallen away. It’s funny, I now think that the experience was more of an invitation or an opportunity, rather than something that was forced upon us. It’s interesting how time shifts us, and the meaning of our experiences.

Like many of you, I’m guessing, I’m not certain whether the pandemic is over. In some ways it feels like it is, and in other ways it feels present, and I’m fairly certain we will be living in this liminal space for a good while. It doesn’t feel like there will be a point where we declare it’s over! — which is something I felt might happen at some point earlier on.

During the last few years I feel I’ve been connected to spiritual growth as a concept and goal for myself, as I’ve explored my gender identity, sexual orientation, and tried to deepen my connection with myself and my awareness of the world around me. 

As I’ve mentioned in a previous In Between Sundays reflection, I still hold near and dear the notion from Octavia Butler that “God is Change”, and the declaration from John Henry Newman that “the only evidence of life is growth.”

But lately I find my attention has shifted. Growth is certainly something we commit to for the long haul, but it often feels like an exertion, requiring energy and bandwidth. And so I’m wondering what it might look like to try to balance the need for both growth … and rest.

I’ve been following the Nap Ministry, created by Tricia Hersey, for several years. The concept, whenever I came across it, clicked with me immediately. However I find myself returning to its central concept — rest is resistance — more and more in recent months. It feels front and center in my mind much of the time.

In a Capitalist, white supremacy culture that aims to keep us moving, to keep us productive, to keep us scrolling on our devices, to keep us checking our email when it dings, to keep us disconnected from ourselves and each other, it is an act of resistance to choose rest as a spiritual practice, to accept rest as not only a necessary part of being human, but also something we all deserve to know and feel, and a place we deserve to operate from.

If you dive into Nap Ministry, you’ll find it’s not about taking naps, and that it does not reinforce the ephemeral cultural trend of self-care. It recognizes that we are culturally estranged from rest, and looks to reconnect us with our bodies, minds, and spirits so we can authentically connect in a more meaningful way individually and collectively. 

It makes me ponder the question… how are we to imagine and create a better world if we’re exhausted?

Wishing us all rest this holiday season and beyond,
Sara (they/she)


  1. Gail Thompson

    Hurry up. Rush dinner. Get up earlier. Drive faster. Minutes count. I lived that way for most of my life. Then we went to Okinawa where maximum speed limit was 35 mph. The world revolved a bit slower and it was okay. We came home two years later, picked up our car in San Francisco to drive across the country. Suddenly everyone was driving at 80 miles per hour and it was terrifying. By Pheonix we were too. I still long for those slower days. In retirement I have given myself permission to slow down just a bit. The pandemic reminded me of those days. My spirit is at peace with the rhythm of my heart. I like me. There have been and will be more pandemics, but that’s okay. You are right Sara, it is a great time to reflect and grow and rest. I hope a few more of the 8 billion of us catch on to that.

  2. Mark Gorkin

    Sara, thoughtfully, no, beautifully expressed. As my Type A mother finally realized two years ago (though reading was always her respite), “Patience Is Peace.” Amen and Women, to that!

  3. Barbara Wright

    Sara, Loved your writing about Rest being Resistence! You have wisdom beyond your years!

    The subject fits in very well with some of the other material I am reading about coming to terms with aging. Turns out, in our culture many of us are resisting acceptance of the fact that sometimes we are required to slow down because our bodies are changing, sometimes for short periods and other times changes are longer lasting. We need to get in sync and accept, reflect and appreciate all the positive aspects and new opportunities aging (and other life changes that require a pause) bring to our lives. There is that “change” word again!

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