Rest. Elusive to many, desired by all. The word rest conjures images of peace, quiet, and stillness. But why is it a spiritual practice? Resting is a theme throughout the Bible, starting in the very earliest chapters. After God creates the world, on the seventh day, God rests. When God's people are looking for a homeland, God refers to this promised land as a place of rest. When God's prophet, Elijah, flees in fear from his prophetic post, God's angel comes and invites Elijah to rest. When Jesus teaches his followers, he promises, "Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28, NRSV)
In a world that glorifies busyness and normalizes never-ending productivity, God invites us to get off the treadmill of activity, and simply rest.
Rest is an act of resistance to the empires and kingdoms of this world and within our own lives. It is an act of reclamation and an act of redemption in bringing God's restoration to the world. Yes, rest is all that! In first allowing God to tend to our own fractures and woundedness can we then embody bringing forth Kingdom reconciliation and hope on earth.
Resting allows us to quiet ourselves before God and revives our minds, bodies, and spirits. Resting as a spiritual practice is intentional and can be practiced in community or alone.
Resting on your own
Resting with others
If you are interested in the spiritual practice of rest and would like to explore more and with greater depth, here are some resources you might like to utilize:
- Sacred Rhythms, by Ruth Haley Barton
- Survival Guide for the Soul, by Ken Shigematsu
- Joy Unspeakable, by Barbara Holmes
- Silent Compassion: Finding God in Contemplation, by Richard Rohr
- Sabbath as Resistance, by Walter Brueggemann
- Wisdom Distilled from the Daily: Living the Rule of St. Benedict Today, by Joan Chittister
Practice, not Perfect
"The Sabbath is the most precious present mankind has received from the treasure house of God."
Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, from his book "The Sabbath""