Tag Archives: rest

Permission to rest




I don’t know about you but I think in the western work ethic culture, rest has become a bit of a dirty word, connected with laziness and even worthlessness. People value each other by what they do and achieve. The most common response to the compulsory question ‘how are you?’ is now ‘busy’ more often than the innocuous and often dishonest ‘fine’. It’s as if busyness is a badge of honour and worth.

But what if we can only be sustainable in what we do, who we are and how much we can love others if we take time to rest? What if the creator of the universe knew how he’s made us well enough to know that the principle of Sabbath rest he introduced is not only beneficial but is in fact essential to us functioning well and being the best we can be? What if the principle of sabbath is not about what we do or don’t do on a Sunday but about rhythms of rest that nurture who we are?

Sometimes we feel we need permission to rest. But what if the person with the authority to give that permission is only ourselves and waiting for permission basically equates to withholding it?

Maybe in this coming year we need to be intentional about setting up healthy rhythms of rest in advance, giving ourselves permission not to fix, solve and keep everyone happy? Not to meet everyone’s expectations or even our own?

What might rhythms of rest look like? Maybe a night in a week to catch up with yourself. Maybe half a day on a weekend that has no engagements or other people. Maybe putting a few days in the diary for a personal retreat, once or twice a year.* Maybe finding out what makes you joyful and peaceful (going for walks, painting, knitting, journaling in a coffee shop, photography, reading… what is it for you?) and making time for those things without apology.

Maybe if we put those rhythms of rest in place in advance we can live a more sustainable life and have more to give others within our work, family and social contexts. Maybe now is the best time to make those advance decisions.

What do you want rest to look like in this coming year? What do you need to do (or say no to) in order to make that happen?

* You can find a few ideas of places to go to on retreat in the UK here, or in the US here or in South Africa here.


The rhythms of our breath intertwined


manenberg baby edited

He runs up to me

Arms flung wide and high

International toddler language

For ‘pick me up’

Big smile, twinkling eyes

Like he knows me

But he doesn’t

But now he does, I guess

At ease on my hip

He grins to welcome other strangers

During the singing

He’s right at the front

Stomping, jumping, clapping

I catch his eye and wave

He rushes over

Arms up, to be lifted again

Fiddles with my thumb for ages

As if it’s a thing of great interest

The yawns

Rubs his eyes

And yawns again

It’s late for a little boy

I shift him in my arms

So he can rest his head against my chest

He does so with no resistance

And in just a few breaths

He’s falling asleep

His grip on my arm loosening

Till his hangs limp over mine

Sleeping peacefully

Despite the music

Pumped out at high volume

I slowly back away from the noise

His mother assured of his whereabouts

I find a quiet spot

A room reserved for prayer.

I’m here to pray for Manenberg

But as the rhythms of our breath intertwine

I find myself praying for this precious life in my arms

Sleeping on me for over an hour

His full weight slumped against mine

Manenberg may be full of fear

He seems to have none

Manenberg may be short on trust

He seems to have plenty

Long dark eyelashes

Cute button nose

Beautifully formed mouth

Entirely serene

Totally trusting

His short dark hair

Spiralling out from the crown of his head

Like a tiny tornado

Watch out Manenberg

There’s power inside

Inside this fearless lover of people

This physical representation of ‘peace in Manenberg’

This boy will grow

To be a culture changer

A city shaker

A nation shaper.

He will be a city on a hill

A light on a stand

A man others will look to.

He will be a door opener

Opening doors of light and hope

And inviting others to step in.

He will blow with the breath of God

Down these streets

Blowing away the dust and dirt

Clearing the way

Bringing refreshing

And life.

His shield of faith will be huge

Towering above his own body.

Faith that sees the bigger picture

Faith to see

The good stuff God’s up to

In the invisible places

Faith to see

Past the hopelessness and anger

On the streets.

While I’m here to pray for Manenberg

I find myself praying for this precious life in my arms

But in praying for him

I’m praying for the people and places

He will impact in his life.

As I relish the calm

Brought by his trusting body

melted into mine

I also think of the times

I’ve felt God invite me

To rest in Him

To rest on Him.

The times I’ve imagined myself

Like a small child

Resting my head on his chest

His arms around my body

My breath in time with his

Hearing his heartbeat

And knowing his peace

His comfort, His safety.

Thanking God for this physical picture

Of His love

Of His offer

Open to all.


All poems and original writing on this blog are Copyright © Hilary Murdoch 2013