By Aurelia Dávila Pratt
Like many of us, I seek to reset my rhythms at the start of each new year. In 2022, at the top of my priority list is consistent, unapologetic rest. So far, it hasn’t been too difficult to stick to the boundaries I’ve set for myself. The year has only just begun, and we are barely on the other side of that window between Christmas and New Year’s when there’s some collective agreement to slow down.
From our calendars to our inboxes, the lingering traces of a slower pace remain near enough to inspire us. The season of hibernation beckons us in, its winterscape offering a lesson on how to proceed.
Yet, regardless of our personal intentions, the pace around us inevitably begins to pick up. We falter a bit, saying “yes” a little more than planned, slowly giving up moments of our sacred time, and needing to reset our boundaries more often.
In other words, life happens. The news cycle continues on. Societal struggles, work, and personal responsibilities require our time and energy. And by the time the next holiday season rolls around, we often find ourselves in another year of it’s-all-too-much.
I am heavy hearted knowing so many of us are perpetually overdone. Longing for another way, my thoughts wander to the poetry offered in Psalm 23. I wonder: what does it mean to lie down in green pastures in these times? Do those still waters and cups overflowing even exist?
I am learning that just as we need to deconstruct harmful belief systems we also ought to rethink our relationship with rest. Rest should become one of our most fervent spiritual practices because none (zero!) of our work in the world is sustainable without it.
As we do this spirit-work of unlearning and imagining anew, may we specifically examine our relationship with time and productivity as it relates to our goodness. May this examination enable us to step out of faith paradigms obsessed with pious acts as a means to an end. May it empower us to retire our endless need to people-please. And may it embolden us to be Resurrection people doing liberative work, for the sake of all our imago Dei.
When we can lean more fully into the truth of our automatic, unconditional, and utter goodness, we begin to understand that we have nothing to prove, nothing to produce, and nothing to earn. God dwells within me, same as God dwells within you—and this is enough. Even more, it is really, really good. We are already good, no proof required.
That said, believing all of this is one thing. Embodying it is another. Enter: the spiritual practice of rest. Rest is hard because it requires us to stop: Stop tying our production to our worthiness and our actions to our goodness. Stop fruitlessly trying to alleviate shame via deed after deed. Stop feeding our ego based on what we do (in fact—maybe just stop feeding our ego!)
The point is: STOP. Rest. And in resting, take the road less traveled.
Prioritizing rest is no easy feat. It is hard and gritty spiritual work. It requires our own daily consistency. In choosing rest, we risk being misunderstood regularly. Rest is both resistance and surrender at once. As difficult as it is, we choose it. We allow the lack of our constant doing to take up the sacred place it deserves. We honor the empty space.
I may not have faith in much these days, but I have faith in this: that rest can be our medicine. Offering us the space we need for Divine intimacy and Divine encounter. Healing our physical bodies. Nurturing us, holding us, and seeing us through these wild times.
In 2022, may rest carry us.
Aurelia Dávila Pratt is the lead pastor of Peace of Christ Church in Round Rock, Texas, and cohost of the Nuance Tea Podcast, where she is redefining what it means to be a clergywoman of color. Her book, A Brown Girl’s Epiphany, is available for pre-order now! Learn more at revaureliajoy.com