Riffing on rest

BY SEÁN MULLAN

The truth? I’m supposed to be on holidays. But it’s 6am and I’m at the laptop writing a piece for VOX. On rest!

Try a little mind experiment. Start imagining yourself living in the days before electricity was commonly available - not that long ago in some parts of Ireland. Then begin, at least in your head, to drop all the tasks you can’t do without power and technology. Writing? That will involve pen and paper. Speaking? That would mean face to face - in the same place. Working? By and large confined to the hours of daylight. 

One word resounds out from the imagined living of that kind of life - restful. The rhythms of day and night, light and dark would mean ceasing every day. The week would have that rhythm of Sabbath when everyone stopped and rested corporately. 

The year would be shaped by seasons - productivity followed by rest and recovery.

Something about that ceaseless working worms its way into our souls and tells us that we’re not worth much if we can’t keep working.

Contrast that life of rhythm and rest with what most of us live now - waking up in the city that never sleeps and feeling like we haven’t slept either; able to keep working because technology allows us, we find ourselves unable to stop working and take a real rest.

And something about that ceaseless working worms its way into our souls and tells us that we’re not worth much if we can’t keep working… can’t do the next task… can’t get the piece finished for VOX or whatever. 

What will they think? Will your reputation suffer if you don’t reply to that email, answer those voicemails, like those Facebook posts? Is it really possible to stop?

And then in the middle of it all comes the voice, the invitation. The carpenter who lived when technology was a sharpened chisel blade or a well-rounded wheel. And He offers rest. “I will give you rest. Learn from me - and you will soul rest. Burden? Light.”

And the voice begins to make sense and you realise that it may truly be possible to rest and cease and leave it all...
 

Seán Mullan has been working in church leadership for many years. He has developed a new project in Dublin City Centre called “Third Space”.