(I rewrote this blog from a while back. It really speaks to me now as I’m recouperating from all the activities, parties, and events for my son’s high school graduation, last theater performances and helping him plan a month long adventure – he’s leaving tomorrow! Sacred Rest is needed!…how about you?)
In our busy lives as parents, employees, business owners, students, and volunteers, we need regular rest periods to recharge our batteries, to refocus our minds and restore our souls. Even finding small islands of time within our full schedule is essential for renewing our bodies, minds and spirits. But sometimes in the wake of our work, or caring for everyone around us, we forget to take care of ourselves. Many, and I’m often one of them, say they just can’t find the time.
But restorative time and self-care is crucial for our own well-being and serving others.
The apostles gathered themselves together unto Jesus, and told Him all things, both what they had done, and what they had taught. And He said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest awhile: for there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure so much as to eat. – Mark 6:1
We need intentionality in creating set apart time in our lives. We do this by scheduling regular periods of time just for ourselves, allowing space to rest under the shelter of God’s wings, seeking the deepest rest in God alone.
This is sacred rest, the time set apart to dip into the well of God given peace within the depths of our souls. Sacred rest, the crowned jewel of self-care, is the rich soil for inner transformation. With such sacred rest, resourcefulness, insights, visions, energy, and hope bloom, fueling us for being healing forces for those in need.
When we face tight schedules, we can still find sacred rest by simply sitting under a tree for a few minutes on our lunch break, sip from a cup of tea in the quiet of the morning before the day begins, or take long, slow evening strolls around the block, letting the moonlight speak to us it’s potent whispers.
In a lovely little book by Esther Waal, Lost in Wonder, she tells us that the project of self-transformation shouldn’t be an attempt to ‘work on myself’, but rather ‘just go for walks, live in peace, let change come quietly and invisibly on the inside.”
I know one woman who says her sacred rest comes from walking her dog.
When we regularly find time to smell the roses, gardens start blooming in our hearts.
Summer is the perfect time to walk the beach, meander through our neighborhoods, putter in the garden, and open ourselves to God’s beauty surrounding us. Whether we take a real vacation, a stay-cation, or simply slow our pace to notice the delightful fluttering of the hummingbird’s wings, or stop regularly to notice the sunflowers growing taller each day in the garden, we create sacred moments for the wonders of God in our midst, to witness the holders of peace and beauty all around us.
The Latin the word for rest is Quies Quietis, meaning quiet, peace. When we make regular dates with ourselves for Quies Quietis, becoming the branches on God’s vine– we become quiet, we become peace.
Let us find quiet, peaceful moments throughout our days.
Taking down time hasn’t always been easy for me, or our family. We’re passionate people–about our work, relationships, creating a comfortable, clean home, and the most important job, parenting our teenager who will soon be off on his own. During the week I ‘m answering emails, attending to the many tasks of running a small business, writing, housework, shopping and doing chores, while my husband travels downtown San Diego for a full day of work. On Saturday you’ll find us cleaning, working in the garden, cooking, shopping, and going to social events. Yet, sometimes by Sunday we’re exhausted.
Yet, we observe Sabbath rest on Sunday, a separate time from our normal weekly schedules to anchor ourselves in God’s holy ways of rest.
Author and theologian, Walter Brueggemann says the practice of Sabbath is an act of resistance because we are saying no to “the culture of now.”
I found an journal entry the other day that speaks to the sweetness of such a Sabbath day:
Today it’s a beautiful Sunday, just beautiful. The cool ocean breeze sweeps five miles up Leucadia Boulevard over the hill above Garden View Avenue, rolling freely over the golf course, avoiding bending itself around the large suburban houses above planted like small castles. Before reaching Sports Authority and Stater Brothers shopping center, it then twists and bounces back to Leucadia Boulevard as it tunnels through the street. As it rises over tree tops, and high above the rare North County pine trees near my house, it finally lands like a graceful swan right here in my backyard, throwing it’s soft feather- like blanket upon me, casting a slightly salty scent upon the sweet smelling blossoms on the Choisya ternata bushes resting along the fence.”
I also wrote, “I love seeing my husband in his shorts and tee shirt napping on the couch.”
I even took a nap that Sunday. A delicious nap. Sabbath rest is like a holy incubator. When we honor this as a sacred day, by Sunday night, when we’re ready to crawl into bed, our bodies and souls feel nourished. We can then wake on Monday ready to go out in the world again refreshed, renewed, restored and more able to handle the onslaught of the week’s demands because we know God is our pillow.
I remember being shocked when my son’s Little League team was called to practice Sunday mornings. I thought, “What? How could they possibly do this, it’s Sunday?” No other parents on the team seemed to care. “What happened to the Sundays of my Catholic girlhood, when stores were closed and families gathered for Sunday dinners, the rich smell of sauce simmering filling the house?” Suddenly, families with two or three children have back to back games or tournaments on our Sabbath day, often as a mother drives one child to a baseball game, the father goes his separate way taking another child to a soccer tournament. I wasn’t brave enough to stand with a picket sign at my son’s Little League game, and sadly submitted to contemporary Sunday game rules. On a deep level I felt cheated.
Sometimes we can’t seem to stop the cycle of our unrest. When we have a particularly demanding schedule we need to stop planning additional duties other than the essentials of our work and family needs. We need to capture any moments of downtime we can, allowing our nerves to settle and our bodies to slow down from the frantic speed of our hectic schedules. We need to unplug. During times when our family gets too busy, before our frenetic pace causes one or more of us to have a melt down, we call a family meeting to re-evaluate all on our plates. With less on our plates, we’re happier, more present and less short-tempered.
The family gets realigned.
Balance comes from rest.
Rest brings happiness.
Peace within helps us become effective in our families and communities.
Are you overworked? Tired? Missing something you can’t quite name? Do you schedule rest and periods of solitude within your day? Can you take something off your plate to give yourself more breathing room? Do you allow yourself time to wonder, dream, to sleep on a hammock?
What’s stopping you?
Give yourself the gift of rest and renewal this week. If you can’t take an actual vacation, I’d like to offer you few tips to help you find your way back to your true self.
1. Unpack your schedule. What two or three things can you take off your list, or at least postpone. Keep only the essentials of what you need to do.
2. Set Boundaries. Where can you say NO where you’re saying YES. Within your means, say NO to anything that doesn’t support the well-being of your body, mind and soul.
3. Schedule a Stay-cation. Create time within the day to schedule mini vacations near home base–intending to calm your mind, and heal your body, and to give yourself a gift. I call it healthy selfishness. Here are some ideas:
Discover the community where you live, find a local park to eat your favorite lunch. Dwell on scripture or a sacred text that speaks to you about resting. Book a nurturing service at a local spa, pray on a bench, sit under a tree and do nothing. Turn off the lights at home, use only candles and listen to favorite music. Unplug the computer and technology for a day or night. Take a soothing, long bath. Venture out for a walk in the neighborhood on a moonlit night. Get your favorite blanket and take a nap in a cozy spot. Dance in your living room, or attend to a hobby or interest you’ve been putting off. Identify five ideas that resonate with you. Schedule at least one or two on your calendar for this coming week.
4. Journaling or Contemplation time. Create a regular time each morning or evening to write to yourself, or find a quiet time to seek those parts of your life that mean the most. Ask yourself at every opportunity, ‘What is it I need right now for rest’? Sometimes I think I need a vacation, when what I need is more self-care, playfulness, or time in nature.
5. Re-evaluate: When you feel rested and at peace (which can be days or weeks of these self-care activities), carve out time to re-evaluate some of your basic needs from this fresh place of renewal. Find a scripture or sacred text that speaks to you. Tape it on your refrigerator or mirror.
6. Make rest, meditation, and solitude a daily practice. What specifically can you do to begin your practice today? Perhaps contemplate the meaning of Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28 in The Message:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”-