Good morning and welcome to West Fork Unitarian Universalists. I’m Cricket and I feel blessed to serve this congregation as a lay leader. I’m glad to see all of you here today.
Thank you for joining us.
[If guests] I’d like to welcome our guests. Thank you for taking a chance and taking the time to walk through our doors and join us for worship.
Let us use the prelude for centering. We are about to enter sacred time. We are about to make this time and this place sacred by our presence and intention.
Please silence your phones… and as you do so, I invite us also to turn down the volume on our fears; to remove our masks; and to loosen the armor around our hearts.
Let go of the expectations placed on you by others—and those they taught you to place on yourself.
Drop the guilt and the shame, not to shirk accountability, but in honest expectation of the possibility of forgiveness.
Let go of the thing you said the other day. Let go of the thing you dread next week. Be here, in this moment. Breathe, here.
Prelude: Lullabye (Goodnight my Angel) by Billy Joel
Welcome Song: Sanctuary
Chalice Lighting: Global Chalice Lighting July 2020
These words are offered by the Rev. Harrison Kingsley, minister of the Chennai Unitarian Christian Church, India
Almighty and all-loving Father, thou God of the human heart, renew in us the life that the care or trouble or sorrow of the world has caused to fade and go out. Give us the spiritual vision by which we may behold the beauty of divine things. And give us the strength of purpose that will enable us to realise our dreams. Amen.
Story for All Ages: You are Stardust by Elin Kelsey
Song: I don’t Have to be me til Monday
Offering Response (Unison)
For the gifts which we have received—and the gifts which we, ourselves, are—may we be truly grateful. Yet more than that, may we be committed to using these gifts to make a difference in the world: to increase love and justice; to decrease hatred and oppression; to expand beloved community; to share, and to keep sharing, as long as ever we can. Amen.
Song: Unwell by Matchbox 20
Lesson: Rest as a Spiritual Practice
One of my favorite memes floating around the internet right now is the one that says, “I am not an early bird or a night owl. I’m some kind of permanently exhausted pigeon.” The first time I saw the meme, I said “I feel that in my soul.”
I started on my path to exhausted pigeon early in life. Infants need 14-17 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period. They sleep and wake up to eat, maybe look around, cry, and perchance coo a little and go right back to sleep. Babies have a cycle and develop their own schedule for sleeping and waking. Or at least most babies do. I was a pro at sleeping in the night time. I slept through the night (which by the way is considered 6 hours for infants) at 6 weeks old. This was great and probably would have been perfect if my mother hadn’t had to work nights. Because unlike other babies who would have also slept at least another 8 hours at some point during the daytime, I did not. I refused to take naps as an infant or as a toddler. In fact, I didn’t take naps until I was pregnant with my first born. By the time I had two toddlers and was working full time, I remember saying, “I wish I could go get back all those naps I didn’t take when I was younger.”
I have spent my life getting things done. I have attempted to be productive and efficient. I have hustled. I have multi-tasked. I have been busy. To be honest, I’m not exactly certain how much I have actually accomplished, but I have worked. And I continue to work. And this pigeon is TIRED.
We live in a society that says you must keep working. You must hustle. There is an enormous pressure to create and then monetize those creations. You cannot be a productive member of society if you are not worth money. There is pressure to make as much money as you can and to have all the things. Rest is not okay. Relaxation is only for when all the work is done. Anything that is not producing is not work and therefore it is not valuable. Playing, when you are an adult, is not ok. Unscheduled time makes us nervous. We don’t like to be bored. I don’t know about you, but when I was a girl and I said “I’m bored.” I got told, “smart girls don’t get bored,” which made me work extra hard to not get bored.
In March, when the Pandemic first shut us down and kept us inside, there were a lot of “now we can finally get _____ done!” posts. There were also a lot of “now you have time, so you don’t have an excuse to not do ______” posts. Everywhere people were saying, “It’s time to start that novel,” “now’s the time to start your blog,” “make all that art,” “use all those craft supplies you have.” Even though it was a time for reigning in our busy lives, many pushed themselves and others to accomplish more and more and continued to be busy, just in a different way and a different space.
We are all becoming permanently exhausted pigeons. We all need rest. It is time to bring back the Sabbath. We need to remember that rest is a spiritual practice.
I chose the songs we listened to today, “I don’t have to be me ’til Monday” by Steve Azar and “Unwell” by Matchbox 20 because for me they highlight the lack of rest within our culture and how it affects us.
Steve Azar wails, “three days without punching a time clock
Three nights of goin’ non-stop
No work and all play. I don’t have to be ‘til Monday” We have to play hard too. It has to be non-stop, get every second out of it. Don’t take a breath. Don’t breathe. Play as hard as you work and work as hard as you play.
Rob Thomas soulfully sings “Unwell.” It’s chorus starts, “But I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell
I know right now you can’t tell” and ends
“But soon enough you’re gonna think of me
And how I used to be.” There is a push to fix all the problems and get back to normal, to the way things used to be. If we push ourselves we can be that way again. We just have to keep working through the permanently exhausted pigeon phase of life.
The thing of it is, the pigeons are not magically going to become another bird that tires less frequently. The pigeons are only going to get more and more exhausted until finally one day, mid-flight, they just cannot go anymore and they all fall out of the sky. So, we need to find a way to rest.
Rest is important because
Inactivity helps the body to relax and gives time to recover strength after any kind of exertion. When personal trainers plan workouts they always put in a day of rest. Because the rest is just as important to the muscles as the work.
When the body is deprived of sleep, it is unable to rebuild and recharge itself adequately. Your body requires rest. So does your mind.
Resting our mind helps us come to with new ideas. Being bored is okay. In fact, it might be an ideal situation? According to Manoush Zomorodi, in her TED2017 talk, “How boredom can lead to your most brilliant ideas” she says, “So our body, it goes on autopilot while we’re folding the laundry or we’re walking to work, but actually that is when our brain gets really busy.” Being bored leads to new ideas.
“The Nap Ministry was founded in 2016 by Tricia Hersey and is an organization that examines the liberating power of naps. We engage with the power of performance art, site-specific installations, and community organizing to install sacred and safe spaces for the community to rest together. We facilitate immersive workshops and curate performance art that examines rest as a radical tool for community healing. We believe rest is a form of resistance and name sleep deprivation as a racial and social justice issue. ” And that is from The Nap Ministry Website.
Napping is a way to resist. I like that idea.
Another quote from The Nap Ministry that I really enjoyed is, “Rest is a form of resistance because it disrupts and pushes back against capitalism and white supremacy.”
And finally my last quote from The Nap Ministry is, “Rest is a connection to our most vulnerable selves, communication with our ancestors, and a holy moment. We need more care. We need more naps.”
Now, Rest does not have to be taking a nap. Although, naps are awesome and should always be considered. Here are things that rest can also be:
- A long shower in silence or a long quiet bath
- Meditating wherever it is comfortable for 20 minutes
- Daydreaming (spending time staring out the window just letting your thoughts roam)
- Enjoying a cuppa (tea or coffee, maybe even hot chocolate) alone in the dark
- Creating an altar
- Journaling with not other distractions and no parameters set
- Not immediately answering texts, emails, and/or messages
- A Sun Salutation or other yoga
- Playing a musical instrument
- Knitting/Crocheting/ sewing/ creating art, especially with no desire for production, just being with the creation
- Taking a break from social media or even taking regular breaks from social media
- Listening to a song or whole album of music deeply focusing only on that
- Having time to hang out with friends with no outside pressures or responsibilities.
The important part about rest being a spiritual practice is intention. The idea is not just to rest when needed, although that is important and you should rest when you need it. The idea is that we schedule time to rest and be with ourselves. It is giving ourselves time and space and knowing how we each individually need to rest. Because for some people resting is hanging out with friends and for some people resting is being alone and very solitary.
Letting a field lie fallow is a technique almost as old as agriculture itself. This is an intentional decision to not plant crops in a field so that the field can recuperate and replenish its nutrients. The same technique can be applied to us. We do not need to rest for a whole year, although that is an idea, but we do need to rest intentionally. Put down our phones. Put down our responsibilities. Put away our urge to hustle, to produce, to multitask. Be bored. Let our minds wander. Let our spirits wander. Allow ourselves to regain nutrients that have been depleted. Remember that your worth is not tied to monetary value. Remember that Rest is revolutionary and necessary.
Hymn: How Can I Keep from Singing – NYC Virtual Choir and Orchestra
Joys and Sorrows
If you woke this morning with a sorrow so heavy that you need the help of this community to carry it;
or if you woke with a joy so great that it simply must be shared, now is the time for you to speak.
For the joys and sorrows that haven’t been spoken, but which remain in the silent sanctuaries of our hearts.
These joys and griefs, spoken and unspoken, weave us together in the fabric of community.
Silent Meditation –
Closing Song: Go Now in Peace (Repeat 3 times)
Go now in peace. Go now in peace, may our love and care surround you, everywhere, everywhere, you may go.