Rest is Revolution (Or, What I Did - or Didn't Do - on my Summer Vacation)
Blessed are the dead who die in Christ. “Blessed indeed are they,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them.” - Revelation 14:13
God blessed the seventh day and hallowed it, because on it God rested from all the work done in creation.” - Genesis 2:3
One of the most radical things we can do, especially in this environment, is rest: unplug; log out; dislocate. Especially in this environment, filled, as it is, with its toxic cycles of reaction, outrage, and resentment: rest is revolution. The temptation is to give our time, energy, and spirit to those who least deserve these things , and yet most crave them: the vulgar ones in power who feed off the negative energy we often give ourselves over to; succumbing to react to the bad fruit of fear and anger they cultivate. It’s a choice, to give ourselves over to those things: choose not to, if you can. The distance rest puts between yourself and the fruit of the vulgar ones can help develop a healthy perspective on your choices. If you remove the air from a fire, it goes out.
The ones who are craving out attention don’t care if we don’t like them. As long we’re talking about them, that’s what matters. The media doesn’t care. The more they rail against the way things are, or celebrate it, the more papers they sell, the more eyeballs are on their screens, the more money they make. Our social media feeds curate artisanal offenses to us by the hour. "Did you hear the latest? I can’t believe it! Could it get any worse?" Rest, then, in its refusal to feed this beast, in its taking the air out of this fire, affirms the holiness of sabbath, the goodness for which God made us, and lifts up the the sacredness of all creation. Rest is an act of faith and justice; it is an act of hope. The world can be different, and we are called to model that in our sabbath keeping, our worship, and how we live our lives in Christian community when we set time and space apart from the world to be together in a restful place.
Rest is revolution.
What did I do with my time this summer? Alphabetized my CD library. Spent a few rainy days in bookstores looking for children’s books. I explored new lakes. Listened to Chopin. But mostly, I rested. I reflected. And I listened - to my body, my heart, my soul, my God. Rest gave me the space and the time for that. I engaged some bad habits, the hardest of which was staying off my phone. I watched sunrises. I thought about the future and I lived in the moment. I went broke but felt rich. I worshipped, and I also went to brunch, and had avocado toast, which I hear is a thing.
It’s Labor Day, as good a day as any to lift up the suppression of the labor movement by the corporate powers that be, and the corresponding hamster wheel of life which is the experience of most folks on planet earth: always working, but never getting ahead. The reason most folks don’t, or can’t, reflect on their lives is we are either too busy by keeping ourselves that way - distracted from distraction by distraction, as T.S. Eliot said in the 1920’s, long before cell phones - or just too busy, and too tired from the constant, relentless, struggle of work, bill paying, child care, elder care, health care, tuition, student loans, debt.
This isn’t about being lazy. In most places, a full-time job at a starting wage puts you below the poverty line. The old social compact of labor - work hard, live well - is broken; is gone, and has been for awhile, pretty much my whole life. Many economists would tell you real wages haven’t increased - haven’t kept up with inflation - since 1972. Meanwhile, the cost of public college tuition is up 150%. The median home price, nation-wide, is up 1000% during that time. And if you are working two jobs and your partner is working two jobs just to keep up, you certainly don’t have time to rest. You don't have time or energy to take a critical look back at the system that is oppressing you. You have to go to work in the morning. You can’t take a day off to go to the protest. You don’t have time for that.
And so we who have the luxury, the privilege, the commandment, the practice, to rest? We owe that perspective back to our world, for our healing is the world’s healing, also. It will not be our frenetic, divided attentions that bring the rest of God’s healing love to our world, it will be our rested, loving intentions.
Rest is revolution, and there will be rest.