A time to rest


Gather your burdens in a basket in your heart. Set them at the feet of the Mother. Say, “Take this, Great Mama, because I cannot carry all this for another minute.” And then crawl into her broad lap and nestle against her ample bosom and take a nap. When you wake, the basket will still be there, but half its contents will be gone, and the other half will have resumed their ordinary shapes and sizes, no longer masquerading as catastrophic, epic, chronic and toxic. The Mother will clear things out and tidy up. She will take your compulsions and transmute them. But only if you will freely offer them to her. 

From Wild Mercy by Mirabai Starr

I love these words and the imagery they open up – placing all our burdens in a basket, giving them to God and then taking a nap. Choosing to rest instead of control, fix, strive or work them out. The invitation here is to let go, surrender and trust, to allow the One who is far more able than we at sorting out our messes, struggles and heavy weights. They open a space that welcomes us to rest, to take a break, to be free of our burdens, even if only for a moment. They open the door to Sabbath.

In Jewish tradition Sabbath is the holiest of all holy days and it comes round once a week lasting from Friday evening until Saturday evening. It is a time to rest from all forms of work and is a mirror to when God rested from creation on the seventh day. Although in the Jewish tradition there are rituals surrounding Sabbath that we may not observe, it does offer us a wonderful “rule of life” which nourishes and sustains.

During Sabbath we are invited to intentionally put our distractions to one side. In our world of technological connectivity, a day where everything is powered down is a true rest not only from the demands technology brings but also from the addictive nature of continually being connected to others and the wider world. We quiet down our environment creating space that is conducive to rest. Perhaps it is a day where we can make our world’s small and simple and give attention to what we need in order to restore. What brings us life? What makes us feel rested? We welcome and give space to what nourishes body, soul and spirit without rushing, striving or pushing. We give some time away from our burdens and allow them the space to shift, diminish and dissolve. 

Having had a rhythm of Sabbath for many years now, my body and soul are accustomed to this pattern. I find that on my seventh day I’m in need of rest, I’m tired from the six previous days and restorative practices are necessary. When I walk, my steps are slower and I notice that my mind needs respite from its everyday activity. It’s like turning down the power, dimming the lights and decreasing the noise from both within and without. I am invited to put everything in the basket, to lay all my burdens down and in doing so find restoration.

I wonder too if the earth welcomes a Sabbath from all that we put it through. God rested after creation, a pattern of life was set in place. Does that creation also long for rest? A day when we choose not to pollute it by driving, consuming and taking from it but a day when we do what we can to give it some recovery, even by offering our small part.

A rest day grows from intention. It is ironically an active and deliberate choice. In today’s demanding world, unless we are intentional we are likely to keep giving that day over to what does not bring rest. It takes practice to let go, to place our burdens in the basket but once this rhythm is in place it is life-giving in the deepest way. It may be challenging to think about taking a “doing” day from the week but as Mirabai Starr says “the Universe graciously expands the container of time to hold my practice and support rest”. God runs to meet us in our rest and make a way even when it seems impossible.

So I leave you with a simple invitation to consider – if you haven’t already – to give your seventh day to Sabbath, to a day of rest, to a day to dial down, to a day of restoration. I believe this pattern of life is already held in our DNA, we already have all we need to live it. Lay your burdens in the basket and then lay your head on the pillow and rest.

Do you feel as if life has become far too busy and rest seems like an impossibility?  As a Spiritual Director, I can join you in discovering a new rhythm of life that brings greater joy and more Sabbath.