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I was delighted the other week to see a piece in the New York Times on Tricia Hersey, the founder of the Nap Ministry. I wrote last month about my rest journey this year, which was inspired in part by Tricia Hersey’s work and her Nap Ministry Twitter account.

What I love about Hersey’s work is that she frames rest as a justice issue, pointing to the intersection of rest with social, political, racial, and economic justice. She centers the exploitation of black and indigenous people and emphasizes the impacts of racism and sexism in damaging our relationship with rest. “Even if rest came at the expense of time she’d typically devote to study or work, Hersey was determined to commit to it — and in the process, to push back on what she, a Black woman, saw as a legacy of forced labor and exhaustion that her ancestors had endured,” journalist Melonyce McAfee notes. Hersey also calls out the impact of social media, grind culture, and capitalism in commodifying our lives and convincing us we need to be productive in all areas of our lives.

A few of my favorite tweets from her the last few months:

“You can rest.
You can rest.
Rest is a human right.
Rest is your divine right.” (7/12/2022)

“The way capitalism robs us of our time and with this stolen time we miss out on time to deepen and connect with our relationships. Imagine how much closer we would be with our loved ones if we weren’t on 40 plus work weeks and exhausted from trying to survive?” (7/13/2022)

“Has exhaustion and being manipulated by grind culture your whole life made you grumpy and irritated constantly? Rest and detoxing off social media could help.” (7/25/2022)

“Come back to rest. You’ve lost your way.” (9/14/2022)

“Be more human. Disconnect from the way the systems want you to be a machine.” (9/25/22)

And as her new book proclaims–rest is resistance! I’ve been leaning in to this message lately and am starting to feel like a broken record about it this year.

It’s been something that I’ve been preaching to my students and advisees the last few weeks, as I watch the semester take its toll. Rest, take care of yourself, resist the pressure to constantly work and hustle. You are a person first and need to live a full life — not everything is about the grind!

It’s something I’ve discussed with colleagues. We need to use our time off. And actually use it — logged off, stepping away from our computers and phones, not checking emails or responding to every Slack message. There’s really no such thing as a true emergency in our line of work — we can take and must take time away from the office!

It’s something I brought up at a vestry retreat for church where we discussed the impacts of the last few years and the pandemic and charted the months ahead. We are all burned out! We need to rest!

In the words of Hersey, our Nap Bishop, “Rest, like your life depends on it.”

Allison Vander Broek

Allison Vander Broek is a historian of American religion and politics. She recently graduated from Boston College with her doctorate in history. Her dissertation, Rallying the Right-to-Lifers: Grassroots Religion and Politics in the Building of a Broad-Based Right-to-Life Movement, 1960-1984, explored the origins of the right-to-life movement in the 1960s and its rise to national prominence.

2 Comments

  • Jack Ridl says:

    I am so grateful for you. When visiting our daughter is southern France, I went to a shop at noon. Even though I knew exactly what I wanted, that it would take a few minutes, the owner politely refused. “Come back at 2pm after rest.”Thank you, and thank you for first truly caring about your students as whole creatures.

  • Diana Walker says:

    Thank you for this. In an environment that clearly messaged that rest was ungodly, selfish and perhaps even seen as a sin, the concept of was precisely was what we deeply needed. More than anything else.
    The years of Covid lockdown taught us many lessons. Especially how to step away from the treadmill and make friends with that recliner in the corner.

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