I started to understand rest when I began to understand work. I was in Kenya and I watched my Kenyan friends get up at before dawn to store up water during the two hours it was on, usually between four and six in the morning. After that the pipes shut off and we used what was left in the half dozen red and blue buckets.
Then, they spent an hour lighting the wood fires in the iron stoves they used for cooking. It took another hour or more to make breakfast: tea, bread with jam, and sometimes fried dough. It took two or three hours to make lunch: ugali and greens. Two or three to make dinner: flat bread and lentils, sometimes with stringy beef.
My friends went to bed around eleven or twelve. Then, the next day, the cycle began again at five.
The rest of the world works harder, I realized.
I was twenty-three, and while I wouldn’t call myself lazy, I wasn’t far off. I decided I no longer deserved to live a lifestyle at all resembling laziness. It was time to learn to work.
However, a few months before this I had been to Israel. I saw how the streets emptied at dusk on Friday night, how families gathered in their homes for the Thanksgiving-sized feasts that lasted twenty-four hours. We drank wine and ate until we were far too full and took afternoon naps and read books and breathed slow and steady, as if the whole world had come to a stop.
Six days a week I write. I work hard because I don’t deserve to live a lazy lifestyle. Too many people who are much kinder and more generous than I work too hard for me to justify laziness.
However, one day a week, I stop. I rest. Why? Not so much because I have earned it. Not because I have the right to rest.
You rest because you were made to enjoy life! It is your deepest purpose. You work to earn the feast you will enjoy on Friday or Saturday or Sunday or whenever. You rest to remind yourself life is more than work.
You can’t have Summer if you don’t go through Winter. You can’t experience joy unless you allow pain. And you can’t rest without work.