by Nancy Bragg
When I was growing up, Mom modeled work before play. I remember summers when she would stand in the 2nd floor utility room, ironing with sweat rolling down her back, before she could take her four kids for a swim. She got tasks done so she could engage in activities like reading the newspaper, playing bridge, or watching tv and knitting. She was always doing something. I remember her sleeping at night, but not resting during the day.
My lack of experience with resting was worse than my mom. I worked full time, raised 3 sons, and earned my doctorate - all at the same time. I was in motion from the time I woke up in the morning, until I dropped into bed at night. I didn’t even make much time for pleasurable activities. When I retired, someone told me to rest and relax. I remember thinking, “I don’t know how.” What a wake-up call! Apparently, resting means ceasing work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength. Where would I even begin?
In one area of my life, I am good at resting. When I am on vacation, I love to recline in the sun on a lounge chair and bask in the sun. It’s a place to start. Even when I am not on vacation, I could turn my face up to the sun and soak up the sunshine. I could even pause, savor, and rest a bit. It would be a blessing to let go and be free, still, rest, and feel connected to the light.
There is a time to let go…
by Rev. Gretchen Haley, who gave permission by email
There is a time to let go of
the steadfast march
to complete the to-do list,
for parents and activists
and for all who love this life
these people, these mountains, this sky.
There is a time to rest,
and to trust,
the world will go on
filled with partners at the ready,
all of us splitting shifts on this project
of building and healing, tending and turning.
Breath and being
require their own practice
their own attention
and the heart needs time for becoming
stronger, after the shattering
the opening wider
the learning to love more
Come into this place -
Study stillness and Joy
Know your belovedness
like a memory calling out
from the center of your being
connecting every little piece
of everything to everyone, and all of us.
Feel here gratitude rising, and praise
For this chance to begin
Again this day
Come, let us meditate (worship) together
Thank you for that reading. It gives me permission to take another day of rest after the holidays. It makes me think about the power of rest, and those two words I don’t put together too often. The line that spoke of the strengthening of the heart, and the relationship between that and rest really inspired me this morning. Last night, Marianne Williamson hosted a free meditation and healing called Forgiving and Releasing the Year 2020. Part of that process is coming home and resting in our experience this year. I felt my heart strengthen at the end of the process. And I realize not to rest, which is one of my challenges, is to not allow myself to be replenish in the ways I might need in my heart. Thank you.
Thank you. That was a great reading and focus. I don’t know how to rest. I’m always doing. I think of all I have to do and do as much as I can. Even when I try to rest and lay down in bed, I’ll do crossword puzzles. It’s a good reminder. What is good is that we always have a jigsaw puzzle going on and I am enjoying the new puzzles we received for Christmas. It’s been a pleasure to work on the puzzles. It’s the only way I am resting at the moment, and it’s enjoyable and it is resting. There are several difference ways one can rest.
Thank you. That reading was lovely and very timely. I was thinking about, as a young mother, I would tell myself I will rest once my child takes a nap. But I never would. I would do chores. Over the years, I’ve learned how important rest is. There’s this competency addiction, as Stephen Jenkinson calls it, in our North American society. Most of my resistance comes from within. In order to truly rest, it seems like that’s when the things nearest and dearest to my heart are rawest. Sometimes, I think I can resist that. The line that jumped out for me was ‘learn to love more and again.’ A friend asked me to go out tonight to see Christmas lights and I practically choke thinking of that. It’s been eight and a half years since my spouse died and I still can’t think about dating. So the learning to love again—my mind tells me there is something wrong with me if I do and there’s something wrong with me if I don’t. When I truly get to a place of pure rest, there is nothing wrong with me. My inner knowing says there’s a lot of moving parts in my life right now and it would be too much to add a big moving part. Thank you for the beautiful reading and time spent in this community.
I was truly inspired by that UU minister’s writings, so good for this time of year.
I appreciated what you said and giving us the opportunity to reflect on this topic. As the light has changed and it gets dark so quickly, I shut down. At the same time, there’s a piece of me that doesn’t know what to do with myself. I don’t want to do work or tasks. What do I do? If I watch television, I fall asleep. It gives me the permission to shut down fully. That triggered for me one of the ways I struggle, trying to find a way to shut down and be quiet. It’s hard in the evening for me to shut down and be silent with myself, to be with myself in a nurturing way caring for that beloved part of me. Realizing that that is such an important component of resting. It’s not shutting off. As you were saying, there are many ways to nurture one’s self.
I remember at a meditation, a teacher saying “I give myself permission to rest.” You just said something about that. That resonated with me.
This has been thought-provoking. Thinking about giving yourself permission to rest is often giving yourself permission to let other people take care of you. I think that is difficult for me. When I was a new mother, the best gift I received was from my mom who had someone cook and clean for me. It was the best present, it relieved me of the urge to be doing something. It let me just enjoy my new baby and rest as I needed to. The other side, too, during this time when my grown child came home for five days, I wanted to talk with her, to engage with her. My spouse said, ‘she just likes being here and being with us. You don’t have to talk, there’s no action.’ When I could settle into that, it’s almost like she’s that little baby next to me, so comforting, so restful. So thank you.
I am glad you came to rest with us today. I wish for you a gentle restful day. Give yourself permission to rest.