Rest is Radical.

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Doing nothing is better than being busy doing nothing.

Lao Tzu

In the month of July we enter into the time of Idir Ait, the in-between, according to the Irish-Celtic tradition. At the summer solstice, the sun stands still on high. The days are long, and life slowly ripens, in this midway time between spring planting and fall harvest. July saunters in lazily and falls across our laps with a popsicle in her hand. Work has been done. Work can wait.

My mother’s family of Nebraska farmers takes advantage of this time, to take a breath. They park the tractor and combine in the shed, and get out on their fishing boats. They shine their hot rods and drive into town, pay visits to neighbors, chat away long evenings over glasses of iced tea and lemonade.

I ask myself how I can find such rest amidst the traffic and sirens and over-scheduled bustle of my city life. Then a goldfinch lands on my fence and sings to me. Work has been done. Work can wait.

Rest, like herbal tea or cool water, can be a medicine for this season. In the space between the wild unfurling of spring and the ripe urgency of fall, midsummer invites us to make like the sun, and rest.

Our culture might try to convince us to disregard rest as a privilege, or a luxury. But it doesn’t have to be this way. In this society that depends upon our constant movement to keep its machine running—and rewards us for it—rest is a radical act.

Nature allows herself to rest when the sun is high; we can follow her lead. Everyone has a right to rest. Work has been done. Work can wait.

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