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"Rest..." - Monday Moment - August 21, 2023

Updated: Oct 27, 2023

Happy Monday, my friends! Have you ever had a job in which rest and sleep seemed hardly an option? I definitely have. For the four-and-a-half years I lived in Pennsylvania I was on call 24/7. No, that’s not a euphemism or an exaggeration. I carried an old flip phone know as a the “Dean on Call phone” and there was only one dean on call. If I was physically present in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, I was on call. Yes, there were other folks who got called before me, but when my phone rang something bad or unusual had happened on a college campus of 1,000 young adults. Maybe you’ve had a supervisor who didn’t understand work/life boundaries, or you were someone who bought into the myth that unless you worked at all hours, you weren’t going to be promoted or given a raise. Maybe you joined a profession or sector where pushing yourself to do everything and work all the time to make the near impossible a reality was considered noble or even courageous. Whatever your way, I imagine the majority of us have experienced jobs or roles where work or responsibilities seemed endless and rest seemed far out of reach.

During winter break of my first year of college I attended my first silent retreat. I wasn’t really prepared for what that would entail, and I found myself at a loss of how to spend the time. An elder Jesuit priest asked how I was and how my life right then was going. I was tired. I had just finished my first semester of college, passed exams, and taken my first plane ride. I was a tad homesick and admitted that starting the break with a retreat might not have been the best idea. His response caught me off guard: “Rest is sacred.” Two years later I spent New Year’s with the brothers of the Society of St. John the Evangelist (SSJE), a group of Anglican monks in Cambridge, MA. This retreat, also silent, I was prepared with books and readings on contemplative practices. Yet I still found myself tired after another long semester. To my surprise, one of these Anglican monks had the same thing to say: “Rest is sacred.”

Rest is sacred, but rest is also something that our American, entrepreneurial—note I did not say capitalist—system often holds at a distance. We’re told that we need between seven and eight hours of sleep a night, but many of us know that individually we often need more or less sleep than those guidelines. I have a friend who cannot function without 11 or 12 hours of sleep but can go for a solid 18 hours before she needs that much sleep again. We all know people who can sleep for less than five hours, run a marathon, and still be the life of the party. Rest cannot be an absolute guideline, but it remains sacred insomuch as even God rested.

Rest allows us to reflect, consciously or otherwise, on what we have done in a day, a week, a year, or longer. Rest is the space for our consciousness to make room for our unconscious mind.

How do you rest? Do you allow yourself to rest for the sake of your body or the sake of your mind?

Let us pray: God, even you rested from the work of creation. Guide us into times of rest so that our bodies and minds might be refreshed and so that we might reflect on all that we have done and all that you have done for us. We ask this through Jesus who also rested. Amen.

Blessings on your weeks, my friends! Please let me know if there is anything I can do for you.




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