Resting: take two. The second half of the series on How We Spend Our Time. Following each author’s insights, I’ll offer another perspective on the same theme. MaryAnn writes about resting for Sabbath. Here’s my take:
“Mama, what would happen if we did NOT do resting?”
It’s his version of the endless “why” of being three - the constant questioning, wondering, imagining, repeating, seeking to make sense of the strange world around him.
I’m trudging him upstairs for rest time, the new name for nap, the matured moniker for the oh-so-big preschooler who long ago gave up his luxurious three hours of sweet daytime sleep. My mother-in-law wisely advised me that kids should rest till kindergarten, and I take her words to heart. I can tell that he still needs to lie down and slow down each afternoon. So while his brother naps next door, he has to rest for one hour.
And this is too much to bear.
“Mama,” he whines again at the top of the staircase, “what would happen if we did NOT do resting?”
“You wouldn’t have good energy for playing,” I respond for the umpteenth time.
“You would probably get really cranky by dinner time.”
Still not budging.
“You might have to go bed early.”
His brow furrows.
“Mama, what would happen if we did NOT go to bed early?”
“Sweet boy, it is Time For Rest,” I declare. I usher him to bed and snuggle him in with a stack of books, closing the door quietly behind me.
But once the house is still and I sit down again at my desk, ready to flip open the laptop and get to work, I wonder about his question.
What does happen when we do not do resting?
My litany of refrains to his plodding question rings clear and true for me, too. I don’t have good energy. I get cranky. I need to go to bed early.
And yet how often I don’t rest – how often I choose the clean kitchen or the updated blog or the finished chapter or the friend’s phone call or the Hulu with the husband or any other good-in-the-moment instead of simple, standard SLEEP.
I need it. I know I need it. I remember how much better everything flows around here when I prioritize it. Yet just like prayer or exercise or eating well, I still don’t choose what I know is best.
Saint Paul summed it up centuries ago – I do not do the good I want, but what I do not want is what I do - and still it flits past my frenzied brain when the hour comes to crawl into bed. There’s always one more thing to do or read or write or organize, and next thing I know 9:00 flies into 10:00 which slides into 11:00 creeping towards midnight before I can blink my bleary eyes.
And even though the second wind felt so good when I was sailing through it – when the writing turned to flow or the movie was so funny we couldn’t turn it off or the kitchen finally sparkled clean after a week of grubby grime – I drag the next day if I don’t rest. Drag my feet and drag my energy and drag everyone else with me down a tired tunnel towards total collapse.
Every Friday night I declare this must be the weekend we catch up on sleep and start turning in early so we can be more productive come Monday. We agree, resolve anew, revisit how better everyone does when we rest.
And then Paul’s catch-22 catches up with us, and we’re doing it again – the writing or the reading or the Hulu-ing or the putzing - past midnight, past our prime, way past what we know is good for us. Wearing out the flesh in which we live; wringing out the spirit that tires within us.
What happens if we do not do resting?
If I only took a sliver of my own admonitions to heart - if I only followed my own advice and laid down my own head to nap or sleep or rest - how much better would it be? Would I stop trying to outrun my own biology and realize that I need seven straight hours like everyone else? Would I stop trying to defeat my own mortality and remember that living well means letting things go undone?
Sabbath. Sleep. Slowing down. Savoring the rhythms we were meant to live by. There’s so much truth in ancient traditions and the simple fact of being a human on a circadian cycle. When I run myself ragged, even in the name of good things, I’m defying nature and wisdom alike.
I know exactly what happens when I do not do resting. I do myself no favors.
Do you get the sleep you need? What habits do you have to rest well? What do you wish you could change?