The Courage to Rest

25 Nov

What courage and determination it takes to truly rest in today’s world. -Jars of Clay

Ironically enough, I heard this statement during a long run.  12 miles made up of small steps, 2 GUs and 104 minutes of Christmas Songs.

In many ways, running (at least the long runs) is my rest. Alone. No To Do list. No Internet connection.  In this particular case, 40 mph winds and 35 degree weather didn’t dampen my attitude. My house could have been a mess (it wasn’t) or my life could have been chaotic (it isn’t) and it wouldn’t have mattered because I had one goal – to run. To train for one particular run 3 1/2 months away.

Today, at the gym, I paused putting on my winter gear.

“What’s taking you so long?” the woman teased.
“My locker combination is highly sophisticated and nuanced” he replied. (This is MIT, after all.)
“I don’t even know why you locked it,” she said. “All of your valuables are in my locker.”
“You are my valuable” he softly responded.

A moment of beauty in the middle of a sweaty locker area. Everyone else rushing around, ear buds firmly in place, gym agendas to be completed missed it.  It was just a small conversation between a middle-aged couple.

But it felt like a moment of rest.

Rest doesn’t have to be hours on the couch. A long nap. A lazy afternoon in a coffee shop. Although it’s nice when those are options.

Rest can be a brief conversation with a friend that brings meaning and clarity. A compliment from a husband to his wife. A Christmas song that brings hope. A chapter of a book that speaks to you. Time for a cup of tea. Time to mail a short note to remind someone that they are valued. A walk around the park. A text to plan a a get together.

Rest takes courage. To step away from the fast-paced world and the silly notion that we must be striving every second or we may miss the chance to “get ahead.”  To accept that rest is needed and rest is normal and rest is good.

Rest takes determination. Because many of us value busyness as productivity.  Busyness as usefulness. And determination because this world prefers bombarding us with choices and shutting them out is not easy.

I’ve often wondered why I am happiest biking on a long winding fall road with a good friend. Or hiking a mountain with a gaggle of like-minded girls. Or running alone towards the winter evening lights of Harvard. Or curling up with a book and a cup of green tea while the crock pot works for me. Or taking a long hot shower after a sweaty workout. Or hearing an adorable exchange between complete strangers. Or reading a letter delivered by the postman.

We are valuable. Every single one of us.

And we perform at our best, our happiest, our most peaceful when we are rested.

(It sounds good, right?)

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One Response to “The Courage to Rest”

  1. Mom November 25, 2012 at 8:59 pm #

    This post is one of your best. So true, such a surprising and tender exchange you overheard, and such an uncontested premise of our world — that to be busy is to be valuable, to have time is to be falling behind in life and betraying your obsolescence. I’ve been in both places, and having time is definitely the harder road to walk.

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