Guest Post: The Impossibility of Rest
Timothy Willard and Jason Locy are two emerging voices who are helping Jesus-followers grow deep roots in the life of faith. Their new e-book, The Sound of Silence, takes a reflective look at the hustle and bustle of life and offers an alternative to our stressful daily rhythms. It is FREE for download now, and I highly recommend it. Below, Tim shares a guest post on the topic of his book: THE IMPOSSIBILITY OF REST
by Timothy Willard
I am the same as you. Each day I must make decisions about time management, consumption stewardship—Do I go with the Americano today or stick to my French press?—and relational connections—Should I call Jason or Mike? Each decision leads to an action, which leads to time spent, which leads to the tensions of reality. The “hurry” bombards from each direction and almost without realizing it, the weeks have passed and the rush of life has left me breathless. I’m stressed, unrested and despondent.
“The life of sensation is the life of greed,” writes Annie Dillard, “it requires more and more. The life of the spirit requires less and less; time is ample and its passage sweet.” Dillard's “life of the spirit” is far from our reality; a bygone idea. Yet the life of the spirit is one we were meant to live. We were meant to grow in wisdom, to have relationships and to experience life in all of its complexity.
But the life of the spirit is hard and requires commitment. We’re not used to the idea of “less and less.” On the contrary, we strive to do more, to acquire more and to be more. What would it mean to go against what we know, this life of greed? It means forgoing the Saturday trip to our favorite department store. It means getting off of the couch and taking a hike. It means stopping by a friend’s house unannounced just to say hello. It’s emphasizing the relational, the simple and the quiet of life. It’s all the things we used to do as kids but, for some reason, have abandoned.
Our Lost Analog Lives
I remember a time when the choices about how to maximize time were pure and innocent. A time when we knew what rest looked like without even knowing that we knew. It was found in action and friendships and ice cream.
I remember the tire swing over Jeannie’s Creek. Everyone would meet there for a long hot Saturday in the cool mountain water. I always wanted to be the first to launch off the boulders, grabbing the tire swing in mid-flight and screaming my lungs out. That was real and wet and terrifying and a knee-busting good time.
Memory makes the captured images in my mind glimmer. Hindsight does its magic, making everything better. There was more sunshine then, too. Right? I remember it flecking through the oak boughs, bouncing off the creek into a million pieces. Things took longer back then. Those afternoons at the creek felt like an eternity. Life was lived in analog—saturated with a richness that is now only shadowy nostalgia.
The Impossible Rest-less Culture
I think progress ages us faster than time. Now, it seems, we would rather sit in front of a monitor or television and consume: ads, meaningless shows, social networks, blogs, Twitter, etc., etc. We are cultural animals now; enlightened, ironic, savvy and connected. We speak a new language, one more sophisticated than the one we spoke jumping into the creek. The ideas and concepts of this new language are not compatible with the analog language of our memory. We speak and mimic what we see on the screens and only understand expressions from that context, in that same language.
Thoughts of spending a day at the creek with friends are voided out. We have too many other things to do. But we don’t know what they are, really. We just know we’re busy and important.
What about you? Where does your memory take you? Is that you, running through the leaves with your friends? Is that you, piling the leaves on top of yourself and laughing? Is that you, gathering more and more and more leaves because you can never have enough?
Thoughts, like the leaves, begin to pile on your brain and you realize you’re still that same little girl in the leaf pile, you’re still that brazen little boy at the creek. You just can’t see yourself. You can’t see the purity of who you really are.
The memory almost convinces you. You begin to see things in a different light. You can see … and then your phone vibrates.
It’s a text.
You gotta go.