Rest Provides Context For Life
- Doug B -
Rest is natural. No profound truth in that, but I wish to elaborate just a bit.
There is much wisdom to be found in the cycles of life. The sun "rises" each morning bringing with it a world of opportunities and possibilities. It provides warmth and light and a mood-enhancing lift that energizes us as we perform our work or just carry out the duties that accumulate with being alive.Then along about the evening hours, as our day's energy is spent and fatigue is setting in, the sun gets ready to "depart" from us and gives us a chance to rest. It becomes dark. The chemicals in our brain in accordance with our circadian rhythm provide us with a great opportunity to make the best use of that darkness by sleeping, that beautiful rest and restoration of both body and mind.
Well, we've cheated the system a bit through the development of artificial lighting. Activities that used to cease with nightfall can now continue endlessly. Business now literally goes on around the clock, often bringing us into conflict with our best friend, Mother Nature.
These are indeed hectic times. Not in the least because we either don't know or aren't willing to recognize when enough is enough. Personally, I think that covers more than just trying to cram too many hours of activity into a single day. Sometimes we can get so distracted by the goal of trying to obtain ever more stuff that we neglect all that we already have. I also believe we can get caught up in the trap of trying to cram too much life into one lifetime. Sometimes we look past today, past the right now, preparing for bigger and better tomorrows - tomorrows that are not promised to us and may not be ours to live.
And that provides a nice segue into a brief look at another form of rest; death - which, it would be helpful to admit, is just another aspect of the cycle of life. We live and then we die. We come and hopefully we conquer (figuratively speaking) before we go. The great Native American Chief Aupumut is quoted as having said:
"When it comes time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home."I think we can only do that if we live our lives well. For me that is the attempt to live according to nature; my own personal nature as well as that greater Logos that is the amazing Cosmos of which I am a part.
One of several problems I had with the religion of my childhood is that it teaches death is a punishment for sin. I no longer accept that. Death, the cessation of all earthly activity and labors, is natural. Death makes way for more life. If we fill our spot well we can in good conscience bow out to make room for others. There is no virtue in merely living long. Living well should be the focus and goal. And having lived well, the rest that is death should be no great burden.
Rest is good. Rest is proper. Rest provides a context that gives meaning to our lives, from start to finish. It is the way of nature.