“Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31
There are 2 words in this verse that I want to explore. Last week I chose “quiet”, and this week I am choosing “rest”.
What a wonderful invitation: come away where it’s quiet and rest. And what a contrast to our current society. The message we hear more these days is more like “here is how you can get more out of your workday” or even some comparative message of how someone is managing to carry out multiple roles. Ironically, of all the magazines I read on a regular basis, the only one that promotes rest is Runner’s World.
When did rest become such a bad word? Or a label we run away from so as not to seem as though we are carrying a lighter load?
Instead, we proudly wear the label of busy so we can show we are pulling our share of the burden. Busy-ness is a badge of honor we wear proudly yet speak of with a martyr’s tone. For those with a typical workweek, the weekend should be a time where we rest and recharge. Instead, it becomes filled with hobbies, family activities, or chores we don’t have time to do during the week. Then we drag ourselves to work on Monday and talk about how the weekend wasn’t long enough.
There is a competitive undertone in itemizing our activities or responsibilities. Usually, these lists are met with a counter in which the other person lays out all that they have on their plate. If we are competing for who’s recognized as the busiest, how do we decide who the winner is?
It seems that there is an unspoken opinion that if you aren’t busy, you aren’t productive. Or you don’t have a life. Or you are lazy. Is this true? If not, then I don’t know why we need to display all we are doing in our own defense.
It may be that there isn’t a level of control we have over busyness in our jobs. But we do have some control over busyness in our non-work lives if we are willing to take responsibility for that. I think we should take away the honorable position we have given busyness.
I belong to a Messianic synagogue and we observe the Sabbath each week. It is a time of rest, and peace. Shabbat shalom. The Italians find a similar joy in the beauty of doing nothing (“Il bel far niente”). With all the chaos and ugliness around these days, choosing rest or doing nothing sound like the better option.