For Want of Rest

How many times a day do you hear (or say yourself), “I am so busy…”  It is the sigh of our day. We say this to one another with no small degree of pride, as if our exhaustion were a trophy, as if our ability to buck up under stress is a mark of real character.  The busier we are, the more important we seem to ourselves and, we imagine, to others. To be unavailable to our friends and family, to be unable to find time for the sunset (or to even notice the sun has set at all), to whiz through our obligations without time for a single, mindful breath…this has become the model of success.

When my son was in college one of his textbook for his world history class (“World History & Cultures”) recorded this in the chapter on the French Revolution:  “To remove any remnant of religion from government, the Convention introduced a new calendar which removed Sundays, Easter, Christmas, and all other religious holidays.  To avoid dating history by the birth of Christ, they declared the year 1792 to be the beginning of the Republic.  Months were renamed, and weeks were declared to be 10 days long rather than 7.  (They were named “Decades,” with the tenth day of each day taking the place of Sunday.)  It is said that people and even horses were physically unable to cope with ignoring God’s law of one day of rest in every seven.  The system was shortly abandoned as unworkable.” (p. 310)  Remarkable.  Rest was never meant to be a luxury but a necessity. 

Wayne Muller in Sabbath writes, “Our culture invariably supposes that action and accomplishment are better than rest, that doing something….anything…is better than doing nothing.  But because we do not rest, we lose our way. Poisoned by this hypnotic belief that good things come only through unceasing determination and tireless effort, we can never truly rest. And…for want of rest, our lives are in danger.” (p. 1)

What might this kind of stopping and rest look like for you today? How might you disengage from the break-neck speed of your life and create a different rhythm, a different space, in the routine of your day? Such a space and rest can be deeply restorative.  The incredible thing is this:  when we do stop long enough to look around, we see God (and life!) in a way that the busyness of our day does not permit.

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