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Rest Up THEN Rise Up

This weekend I took a break courtesy of Disney+. I spent HOURS watching (and rewatching) Hamilton. I was captured by the bravado of four friends ready to change the world, by Eliza’s heartbreaking journey of forgiveness and by the comedy of King George III. I was awed by the creative genius of Lin-Manuel Miranda and was carried by the rhythms of revolution. 

I also felt really guilty. It was HOURS! – time that I could have worked in the yard; time that I could have cleaned something; time that I could have used to work ahead. There is a constant tension of exhaustion and yet so much to do that seems to be creeping into my life these days. All of life’s demands are now present inside my home. Everything happens within the same four walls every day and for the most part, I don’t move around outside those walls like I did before the pandemic. There is no escape, well at least until the guilty pleasure of Hamilton arrived. In the midst of this tension, I decided to open my email and delay the inevitable breakfast KP duties. Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber’s weekly prayer was waiting for me. I was hooked by the first line.

Dear God, 
Everyone’s exhausted right now: parents, activists, cashiers, people who are just now actually learning about systemic racism, delivery drivers, the unemployed, the chronically sick, ER nurses, those who fear the police, the elderly, performers with no hope of an audience any time soon, clergy, social workers, those who can’t make their rent, and everyone who has to spray something down with disinfectant for the 1,000th time.

Teach us to rest, Lord. Help us dial back our obsession with productivity. Raise up more helpers for those who are over-extended Lord – stir up the desire to serve in those who only take. Remove barriers to napping. Quiet babies for an hour so those new mamas can sleep. Make us aware of any new binge-able NETFLIX shows that might help. Give employers the will to grant extra paid mental-health days. Quiet those voices that tell us we should be doing more right now, especially the ones that come from inside of us. Teach us not to confuse respite with laziness. Increase our compassion for one another. And while you’re at it, increase our compassion for ourselves. 
Lord, in your mercy,
hear our prayer.

In our first Wednesday Night – Summer Edition conversations, Rev. Rene August reminded all of us that we are not equal to what we produce. We are not to be worshipped because of our wealth or despised because of our lack. We are not equal to what we produce. We forget this truth. We especially forget this truth when we are overwhelmed and overrun with busy-ness. So Lord, please, remove the barriers to napping. Yes, Lord. Teach us how to rest. Teach us to not confuse respite with laziness. Teach us compassion for our neighbor and for ourselves. 

I pray that especially in these days you are making a time to rest and renew, adhering to Sabbath practices that refresh, inform, and shape the very future of our work together. If I have learned anything this weekend from Hamilton, the revolution is at hand. Let’s rest up before we rise up (wink, wink).

Amanda Atkin
Associate Minister of Faith Formation