Do you ever wonder what was God up to when after six days of creating the world they took a whole day for rest, declared it holy, and then proceeded to make it a commandment for us? What’s so holy about doing nothing, or anything that doesn’t begin with I have to, I should, I must, but begins with I want to because it brings me delight and rest?
Writer Joshua Gorenflo says that the ideas we inherited about Sabbath are often associated with religious practices and practices like rest and doing nothing, don’t sit well with our dominant culture of productivity, overscheduling time and commitments, and finding it hard saying no. It doesn’t help either that we live in a culture that sets a person’s worth and value based on their capacity to do and produce, non-stop. Being busy all the time has become a pride medal to prove we are successful and popular.
We know we need rest. We might even know the many ways that rest boots our immune system, our mental wellbeing, and our resilience, and still, most of us find it hard to stop working and thinking. But there are also realities that need to be named that keep many from being able to rest. Systemic injustice keeps many from experiencing rest due to the lack of access for their physical and mental wellbeing or not having a just income with benefits, and this leaves them with no choice but to work non-stop to meet their basic needs.
We are also living in a time when in our world we are facing great challenges and uncertainty and a lot around us keeps changing. Practices such as rest can not only support our physical and mental wellbeing but also create time and space for rituals and practices that can keep us grounded while we move through the rage, fear, hopelessness, and all of our feelings, and nourish our sense of hope and joy.
Rest and wellness is a holy practice that encourages our and creation’s sustainability and life rhythms. Rest looks different for everyone, it can be as simple as consciously creating a sustainable rhythm for your days. Rest can look like taking time to breathe, acknowledging and honoring your feelings, or going for a walk and listening to the birds or the wind, or honoring our need and longing for silence and solitude and choosing when and how we want to spend time with others. Rest can be listening to your favorite music, dancing, cooking and eating with delight your favorite food, taking a nap, reading and writing for pleasure, or finding delight in tending to the land where you dwell.
God created us all for harmony of mind, body, and soul, for delight and flourishing. Rest is your divine right!
Rev. Nancy Rosas
Rev. Nancy Rosas (she/her/hers) is the Pastor of Pilgrim-St. Luke’s United Church of Christ, a WISE (Welcoming, Inclusive, Supportive and Engaged) for mental health spiritual community in Buffalo, NY. She encourages and nurtures her sense of joy and resilience through the practices of yoga and meditation, photography, gardening, writing, and being outdoors on a regular basis.