[From Kenny's "COME TO ME: Meditation Guide for Students. Lent 2000" by the Rev. Denise Yenawine Mosher.]

On Radical Rest

   Thomas Merton once wrote a tongue-in-cheek "confession" of his utmost un-American deed - doing nothing. He belived his rest was so radical because it cut against the grain of the culture, even grain of the church.

I confess that I am sitting under a pine tree doing nothing. I have done nothing for one hour and firmly intend to continue to do nothing for an indefinate period. I have taken my shoes off. I confess that I have been listening to a mockingbird. Yes, I admit that it is a mockingbird ... This kind of thing goes on all the time. Wherever I am, I find myself the center of reactionary plots like this one. *

   The unwritten code of conduct of our time?
   Stay busy at all costs.
   Be useful.
   Don't rest.
   Join another committee at church, a work group at the office, a discussion group at the bookstore; help organize activities for your kids; join a prayer meeting at the church, a group involved in social activism downtown, a work camp for the poor, a petition campaign challenging the privileges of special interests. And become involved in all of this while metting your usual religious obligations!
These treadmills we choose to stay on - running faster and faster like mad rats searching for their rewards in some crazed science experiment - not only wear down our bodies but also degrade our spirit. They defy God's wisdom which calls us to Sabbath time - a ceasing of all work, a rest, and time set aside for worship and reflection on God's good creation.
   Sabbath has always been a radical rest. It has been a "fly in the ointment" to the culture and to the "civic duty" to throw yourself into labor without concern for body, soul, and family.
   And the fact that our culture judges harshly those who do "nothing" - which is, in itself, actually something - should not be a surprise to us. God's ways of ordering life has been a thorn in the side of the powers-that-be, the technocrat and the politician.
   Could any of God's messagenot be seen as radical?
   So, brothers and sisters, do something rebelliouos, radical, naughthy - and true to God's calling for you today - rest. nap. Sit under a tree and pray. Cease and desist. Lift up heart and voice to God for all God's gifts. Practice the simple kindness to others.
   Experience Sabbath rest.
   Be a radical.
   Shock the World.

Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for the LORD gives sleep to the beloved. (Psalm 127:1-2)

* A Signed Confession of Crimes Against the State in "A Thomas Merton Reader."

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