As Labor Day weekend approaches, the Minnesota Public Radio weather forecaster has been telling us about the beautiful three-day weekend we have ahead — picture-perfect for the last hurrah of summer … lakes … parks … picnics … boating …
I know the Minnesota winter is on its way, but the idea that I should be dashing about, packing in some last gasp of warm-weather fun makes me feel tired.
This is partly pandemic fatigue talking, but it’s also our year of transition, from West Coast to Northern Plains, catching up with me. A year ago today we drove away from our life in Vancouver, Washington. Since then, we’ve been settling our son into school, lessons, teams and, yes, new weather patterns, and all of us into our new home, neighborhood, extended family and community.
One thing we did right this past year was schedule an October weekend getaway at my friend Anna Madsen’s Spent Dandelion Theological Retreat Center in Two Harbors, Minnesota. Little did I know, the Spent Dandelion and, by extension, my family, would end up in a story titled “The Spiritual Discipline of Rest.” (You can find it in the August issue of Living Lutheran.)
We are not exactly poster children for rest, as our calendars and to-do lists mushroom with appointments and ideas. We must imagine ourselves having more than twenty-four hours in our days, more than seven days in our weeks. Of course maybe that does actually make us poster children for rest.
Regardless, the Living Lutheran story circles around the idea that rest is a spiritual discipline and brings in the perspectives of several theologians, writers and church leaders.
One, Cynthia Moe-Lobeda, a professor of theological and social ethics at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, is quoted saying, “We get seduced and sucked into constant activity, and a lot of it is good, worthy, important activity, but it obliterates space for rest. I really think that the capacity to hear the Spirit and to [flourish] as a person are built partly by having rest.”
Another, Anthony Bateza, an assistant professor of religion at St. Olaf College (Anna’s and my alma mater — um yah yah!), shares that there’s an ancient Greek and medieval concept describing people who are overly busy with needless work. It’s called “polypragomsyne,” and, according to Bateza, Martin Luther was critical of such behavior and encouraged people instead to find rest in God’s grace.
Since reading the Living Lutheran piece, I’ve become a bit self-conscious of my customary greeting, which long has been “How are you doing?” What does that question say about what I value?
I’ve begun to think the more important question is simply “How are you?”
Or maybe even, “Are you finding time for rest?” It’s a question I should tape to our bathroom mirror.
Here’s wishing you rest this Labor Day weekend.