The Slow Truth
“Rest is an essential enzyme of life, as necessary as air. Without rest, we cannot sustain the energy needed to have life. We refuse to rest at our peril–and yet in a world where overwork is seen as a professional virtue, many of us feel we can legitimately be stopped only by physical illness or collapse.” ~Wayne Muller
In the introduction to my own 30 days of rest, I write about the important decision I had to make in order to begin this experiment.
Did I want to be sick or did I want to be rested?
If it seems like an easy choice to you, please let me know your secret.
Let me tell you what I realized about myself…
If I said that I was sick or depressed, there was a good chance that others would have pity, compassion or grace for me. It is socially acceptable for one to need space, to need support, to need some peace and quiet when they are going through a hard time.
If I told people I was resting, it meant I had to take responsibility for my own needs, set my own boundaries, and maintain them in the midst of a society that insists on instant connection, efficiency and productivity.
As I began those 30 days of Rest, the temptation to tell people I wasn’t feeling well was tremendous-like the apple on the tree of good and evil kind of temptation-it would be so easy. Being sick means it is not my fault.
BUT, the entire reason we did the work to simplify our lives was to enter into a rhythm that we could sustain and enjoy. The whole point was to no longer be a victim to our frantic pace.
This was SO my fault. It was my choice, my intention and a costly one.
I held every single item we owned-my son’s baby outfits, my daughter’s beloved stuffed animals, love letters between my husband and I as well as the letters we wrote when we couldn’t have a conversation without breaking each other’s hearts-and I let most of them go.
I let go of our family home.
I let go of my professional identity.
I let go of being the kind of friend that was there anytime anyone needed me.
I asked my husband to let go of his pimped out home theater and giant screened-in-porch.
I hugged my kids while they let go of their childhood.
I didn’t do these things or ask my family to do these things so people would feel sorry for me. I didn’t make these transforming life choices to play victim.
I took every single slow and often painful step because, in my core, I believed that there was an abundant life on the other side of this, just waiting for us to live in it.
That kind of life life is based in rest.
So, I had to tell the truth.
And I hope in telling my own truth, I am able to share some of my freedom with you. The freedom to choose rest while it is still there for the choosing.
“If we do not allow for a rhythm of rest in our overly busy lives, illness becomes our Sabbath–our pneumonia, our cancer, our heart attack, our accidents create Sabbath for us” (page 20).