Earlier this month, Pope Francis, in his first public appearance after returning to the Vatican following an 11-day hospital stay for a scheduled surgery, told those gathered in St. Peter’s Square to “learn to take a break” and truly rest. “Let us beware, brothers and sisters, of efficiency,” Francis said, “let us put a halt to the frantic running around dictated by our agendas.” He was reflecting on Mark 6:30-34, in which Jesus instructs the disciples to “come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while,” after they told him all the preaching and teaching they had been doing.
“Rest a while,” he told them. Holy, ever-elusive rest — it’s a simple command but, in my experience, a complicated practice.
The pandemic has forced workers and corporations to engage in conversations around overwork, death-by-a-thousand-efficiencies, and the trauma that burnout unearths, but we still lack the vocabulary to really talk about rest.
Rest is found if we accept the invitation, unburden ourselves, and learn the way of gentleness and humility. But so often we put off rest because we are convinced that our work — our jobs, our families, or even our service for others — requires our constant attention. Rest necessitates a change of pace and a laying down of self-importance.
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Sandi Villarreal is editor-in-chief of Sojourners, an independent, award-winning print and online magazine of faith, culture, and politics. You can find her on Twitter @Sandi.
With thanks to Sojourners and Sandi Villarreal, where this article originally appeared.