Rest as resistance and refuge

My experimentation with rest as a tool of release has been a deeply spiritual journey of letting go. It gave me the opportunity to exercise and develop radical faith. The type of faith that my grandmother, mom and dad lived. The faith that kept my ancestors connected to their own divinity while in bondage during the sin of slavery. It is an unshakable place. The faith of a mustard seed that allows you to jump without a net. Rest is a holy place. Rest is a spiritual practice. Rest is a disruption of the toxic narrative of capitalism that connects our value to what we produce for a system that sees us as human machines. Grind culture and the exhaustion it produces degrades our divinity. It is a real resistance to center your rest in a world that pushes towards hyperproductivity, urgency and disconnection.

The scriptures teach me that ease, comfort, rest, and radical care are promised to me. My favorite book of the Bible is the Psalms. The poet in me has always been linked to the rhythm, cadence and song found in his verses. The Psalms of Comfort supported me when everything in my life was falling apart, the same way my spine supported my tender, strong body. My faith has guided me to hold fast to the promises of the scriptures when the whole culture works together to keep me from resting. From the scriptures, I learned that Jesus took a nap on a boat. I learned that ease is promised to me. Rest is promised to me. Goodness and mercy forever are promised to me.

The Lord is my shepherd; I would not. He makes me sleep in green pastures; he leads me near calm waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in the right paths because of his name. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff – they comfort me. You set before me a table in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup is overflowing. Surely goodness and mercy will accompany me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord all my life. (Psalm 23)

I first memorized the 23rdrd Psalm when I was a little girl about eight years old in Sunday school at Robbins Church of God in Christ in Robbins, Illinois. This small congregation, just outside the South Side of Chicago, has incubated and nurtured my faith since birth. My mother gave birth with me while I was in Sunday school in 1974. Since I was her second child and she loves Sunday school, she decided to stay for the whole lesson before leaving. go to the hospital to give birth. My father was a choirmaster and assistant pastor of the church; my grandmother was a longtime member until she returned home to see God. I married in this church and now claim it as my spiritual pole star and my foundation. The beginning of my journey of faith and rest.

My Sunday School teacher, Sister Moore, hand-wrote the scriptures on a 3-by-5-inch lined index card to distribute to all of her students. I loved receiving my card, with its fancy blue ink writing. His instructions to us: Go home and ask your parents to read the Bible passage to you every day. Read it before going to bed. Go slowly and repeat each line until you can recite it without looking at the card. Take the map with you. I took this mission very seriously and returned home holding my card with the 23rd Psalm over it. I started reading it to myself during the car ride and continued the memorization process for an entire week. The following Sunday, I could recite the verses as if I were singing an original song.

I felt so comforted that I closed my eyes and the words proudly spilled out of my mouth in front of the whole congregation. Every word became a prayer for me, and I trusted and believed in the imagery of lying in green pastures. I imagined myself on a hot summer day, curled up on a blanket in the garden of my childhood home, which had thick green grass that my father sometimes let grow long before he got out the lawn mower. Verses 5 and 6 were my favorites to repeat. I liked to say “You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will accompany me all the days of my life, and I will dwell forever in the house of the Lord. I loved saying “forever” over and over again. I was hypnotized by the idea of ​​comfort, rest and goodness. When I was a young child, God felt so close to me repeating these verses. I felt so proud to stand in front of the whole congregation.

This was perhaps the beginning of the opening of my heart to the practice of radical faith. Forty years later, I repeat these words over and over again in my head like a mantra as I center rest in my life. I rest every day. I return emails when my energy allows me. I slow down when the machine pace of capitalism constantly tells me to go faster and do more. I trust God to make room for my gifts without the pressure of overwork. I refuse to ignore my body’s signals to rest and connect. I elevate my divinity by seeing rest not as a privilege but rather as a human right and a birthright granted to me by God. By refusing to burn out, I place my body on the altar of rest and trust that I will align myself with the call God has for my life. It is not easy to seek liberation in a culture that breeds hatred, division, capitalism and inequality. To seek rest is to be an outlier and it will take tremendous effort and faith to push back and disrupt grind culture.

Protest and resistance do not go in the same direction. They are always a counter-narrative to the dominant story. They are what really happens on the ground in the small, important details of our lives. They say, “No, that’s not the whole story. I have another point of view. I can speak for myself. Resistance is living when you have lived in a culture that does not see your inherent worth. It is to center joy when pain and oppression surround your daily life. It’s living your truth, even when your heart trembles at the thought of being vulnerable. It’s the siesta when your whole culture has called you lazy. It’s resting when you’ve been told you’re not doing enough for capitalism. Resistance is honoring a Sabbath and standing firm on the boundaries you have created for your well-being. It’s a bold confidence, even when nothing has happened for a long time. It examines the ways you consciously or unconsciously hold and align with white supremacist thinking so you can begin to heal and change.

Resistance feels like wailing when our culture calls for unrealistic, toxic positivity every second. It is knowing that our rest is not an afterthought, a luxury, a privilege, or anything for which we have to ask permission. I believe that naps are a holy place and that radical community healing is a spiritual practice and a form of resistance for everyone, but especially for those who live on the margins of racism, poverty, and government-sanctioned violence. ‘State.

That day, when evening had come, he said to them: “Let’s go to the other side.” And leaving the crowd behind them, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats accompanied him. A great windstorm arose and the waves hit the boat, so that the boat was already submerged. But he was in the back, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Master, do you mind that we perish?” He woke up, threatened the wind and said to the sea: “Peace! Shut your mouth ! Then the wind stopped, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Don’t you still have faith? And they were filled with great fear and said to themselves, “Who then is this, whom even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mark 4:35-41)

As the founder of The Nap Ministry, I create collective napping experiences for the community to rest together in sacred space. If we can nap like Jesus did in Mark 4:35-41 and rest in the beauty of God who holds us, sees us, and guides us to rest, we can be empowered to embody the good news together. rest. In a society that says you should do more by maximizing every opportunity, we can take refuge in the actions of Jesus when he left the great crowds that grew up after experiencing his ministry. He retired to go inside and took a nap. In a culture that is overworked, sleep deprived, and afraid to take breaks or say no, we should hold up Jesus as an example of rest as resistance.

Resistance is like sleeping peacefully through a windstorm on a cushion on a leaky boat because you know you have nothing to fear because your faith keeps you secure. God is always there no matter what storms are raging around you. After Jesus awoke from his siesta (“He awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be quiet!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. He said to them, ‘Why “Are you afraid? Don’t you still have faith?”, the text ends with the disciples still amazed and shocked. Still wondering: Who is this person , “that even the wind and the sea obey him?”

I believe that like prayer, resting and slowing down is a veil remover. Rest removes the veil giving us space and time to see what is really going on. For almost nine years, I have been researching and experiencing rest as a spiritual practice and have clung to this idea: sleep allows you to wake up. Naps offers a DreamSpace to invent, imagine, restore and heal. Rest disrupts the cycle of exhaustion-related trauma and makes room for invention. Rest can be daydreaming, silence, prayer, meditation, siesta, and slowing down.

My grandmother, Ora Caston, used to sit on the couch every day for 30 minutes to an hour between her jobs outside the house while she raised children and grandchildren. She sat silently with her eyes closed. When I asked, “Grandma, are you sleeping?” without opening her eyes, she replied: “Each eye closed is not sleep.” I rest my eyes. I listen to what God wants to tell me. I listen.”

As a young girl, I loved watching her sit on her couch and hold a space like this, but I really couldn’t grasp the radical faith and denial of this sacred act. Now that I’m older, I’m in awe of her consistent, intentional rest in a world that viewed her work and her body as disposable. She is the muse of The Nap Ministry because her radical faith at rest in a constantly growing world is proof of our divine right to rest.

I pray that with community care, rest, and radical faith, we will awaken to the beauty of our empowered selves and use the power of rest to transform our lives and communities. May rest be a balm for a weary world. May we return to our natural state by rejecting the violence of grind culture. May we listen to what God wants to tell us. May we rest our eyes. May we see ourselves worthy of rest today and forever. We are going to rest!

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