Editor’s note: Current lay missioner in Formation, Jenny Tsui, gives a new perspective to the often overlooked afternoon nap, a deliberate choice of freedom and trust in the Lord.
One of the new habits I’ve adopted in Formation is a brief, post-lunch nap. Spurred on by the inspiring example of some of my Casa-mates and especially encouraged by Joleen, a long-time practitioner, I found the nap seems to clear my head from the discussions of the morning and gives me new energy for the afternoon ahead. As part of Formation, we recently listened to this powerful podcast featuring Tricia Hersey, founder of The Nap Ministry, who lays out how napping can be an act of revolution against White supremacy and capitalism. (By the way, a great example of the depth and breadth of the Formation we are receiving here!)
It is deeply counter-cultural for many of us to prioritize and relish our rest. I ponder on how so many of us must give up regular and adequate rest in order to make enough to live upon, to achieve our dreams, to support our families, to create a better future for ourselves and others. Tricia Hersey addresses the conundrum that stopping for rest can feel impossible or irresponsible. She reminds us that our faith tells us there are larger spiritual forces working on our behalf. In my own struggles to stop and take rest during impossible-seeming situations, I found courage in God’s multitudinous, unhurried, and unending motion, even as I paused and was still. I found comfort in my small place within the efforts of many and my limited role in God’s expansive plans, even as my anxieties and ego pushed me to take a center-stage place that would lead to exhaustion and pride.
Even in drafting this blog post, I felt the tug to focus on my own potential efforts and our collective human responsibility–what can we DO to create rest? I wanted to explore the social justice implications and pose a call to action for society to re-think and upend structures that make rest, a basic human need, into a luxury commodity… but there is a troubling, persistent contradiction in doing more to achieve rest.
In the worst places of my recent burn-out, when the balls seemed to be constantly on the verge of all dropping in catastrophic slow motion to the floor, learning to steadily look to God resulted in a paradoxical rest within the storm. Small deflections, nudges, permissions to stop…resulted in rest from doing to achieve more. I still don’t know how to synthesize this surprising, inward freedom and the outward injustice that works inexorably to bind, but rest is pointing the way.
This is what the Almighty LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: You can be saved by returning to me. You can have rest. You can be strong by being quiet and by trusting me. But you don’t want that. (Isaiah 30:15)