‘Doing nothing’ is an activity that deserves more respect. Our lives and culture are so busy, and generally people connect some of our worth to whatever activity we are accomplishing. Doing nothing isn’t a value.
But resting is good! The word ‘restoration’ comes from ‘rest.’ We usually forget (or don’t care) that resting is one of the commandments.
"The seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work - you, or your son or your daughter or your male or female servant, or your ox or your donkey, or any of your livestock, or the strangers in your towns, so that your male and female servants may rest as well as you." (Deuteronomy 5: 14)
Apparently, God considers it a pretty big deal! We know that rest is good for us, but as Americans, we are encouraged to work hard, and to work more. It can be more of a challenge for us to find time to sit, relax, and enjoy things than it is to work harder.
A friend of mine recently gave me this quote from her church newsletter:
"Do not try to save the whole world or do anything grandiose. Instead, create a clearing in the dense forest of your life and wait there patiently, until the song that is your life falls into your own cupped hands and you recognize and greet it. Only then will you know how to give yourself to a world so worthy of rescue."
- Martha Postlewaite
Martha Postlewaite was the chaplain at United Theological Seminary when I went there as a student. It is good to be reminded that in this busy world, where so much is needed, it is important to take time. When we operate out of a place that is rested and centered, we can offer more to the world.
Thomas Merton was a famous author and monk who died in 1968. In his book Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, he wrote:
There is a pervasive form of contemporary violence…and that is activism and overwork…To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to violence...It destroys the fullness of our own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom, which makes work fruitful.
Our bodies, minds, and spirits are made for activity, and rest. Take time this summer to re-coup, re-store, and re-juvenate. Take time to do nothing. Restore your soul!