Last week, Thursday afternoon, I felt a familiar ache on the right side of my throat. I have only one tonsil (that’s another story) and it lets me know if I’m coming down with a cold. My faithful cold-o-meter.
Time to take extra immune-boosting supplements, eat nourishing food like homemade miso soup, drink plenty of fluids, and … rest.
But rather than bringing comfort or feeling like a darn good idea, the word ‘rest’ brought a slight unease.
“Not yet. I’ll wait and see how I feel later.”
I made a dash to the store for supplies, just in case I went under, and came home feeling pleased with myself. Friends sent suggestions for fending off colds. I took another look at my to-do list to see what I could accomplish before bedtime.
Now my head was aching and a sneeze or two had appeared. I imagined the symptoms passing right on through, my cells swept clean by the re-set, and a quick return to health. I went to sleep listening to a recording of healing imagery.
The next morning I was under siege. As I sipped a cup of ginger tea, I looked at the day before me. Rest. You need to rest. I could feel the resistance again. “What’s up with resting?” I mused. That’s when I heard a spontaneous, unspoken warning that almost made me laugh:
“Resting could be dangerous, wrong, or immoral.”
Say what?! I could become an immoral woman if I rest? Yep. That’s what my mind dished up from some secret hidy-hole in my psyche. Yet how many times have I told ailing friends that Dr. Rest and Dr. Laughter are the two best physicians?
Intrigued by this burst of revelation, I laid down to rest and contemplate.
- What could be dangerous about resting?
- What could be wrong with resting?
- What could be immoral about resting?
Unless you were raised in a culture where resting has value, not just when you were ill, but resting for its own sake (sacred idleness), you may have a similar response to the idea of rest, particularly during daylight hours. (I checked with one friend to see what kind of a reaction I might get to my self-disclosure. I thought she might laugh, but she replied with some vigor: “I know exactly what you mean!”)
The danger in resting, I conjectured, might be that I could miss something VERY important while resting. My life’s destiny might come and go in a missed phone call if I rest. Someone might knock on my door and discover that I was resting without being under the influence of a truly debilitating disease. It might be wrong because I could lose precious time needed to perform the absolutely, positively crucial activities that are mine to do. It might be immoral because godly people never rest except when they’re asleep at night. Everyone knows it’s doing that makes you a valuable person. And if you keep going in spite of not feeling well, the prizes are unlimited. Rest, you say?! No. Way.
Humor aside, there are obviously old patterns of judgement inside me about resting my precious, one-and-only body when it asks for it. I would deny rest to my oldest friend, for the sake of appearances?
“You can’t put yourself in jeopardy by resting in God.”
– Hugh Prather
Prompted by this gem of insight, I took resting to a new, personal-best level during this recent summer cold. I laid in bed without reading, no laptop or cell phone, no television. Just the simple sounds of the day outside, life going on, while I rested. I started to feel nurtured by this deliberate resting. It felt freeing and loving. I said yes instead of no to what was.
I know resting or giving in to feeling unwell is not always simple. We have duties, families, commitments. But how might the world be made better, if when our body calls for rest we answer, “Yes, Dear One. Rest it is.”