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,