A couple of weeks ago a friend told me about the Nap Ministry. This idea was new to me, but it really struck a chord, and I wanted to share it with you today. Over the years, I often struggled to stay awake during workdays, especially after lunch. I became accustomed to “plowing through” and using sugar to keep myself alert, fighting my body’s need for a break and my soul’s desire for rest as rejuvenation.
I’ve also spent quite a bit of time on this blog writing about antiracism. I realize it’s important to highlight movements worth celebrating as well as all the challenges we face in working to overcome America’s white supremacist history. I believe the Nap Ministry is one such movement worth honoring. Here’s what Nap Ministry founder Tricia Hersey writes about the reasons behind her ministry:
I began experimenting with rest as a tool for my own liberation and healing in 2013. It has always been about more than taking a full nap. My rest as a Black woman in America suffering from generational exhaustion and racial trauma always was a political refusal and social justice uprising within my body. I took to rest and naps and slowing down as a way to save my life, resist the systems telling me to do more and most importantly as a remembrance to my Ancestors who had their DreamSpace stolen from them…. Rest pushes back and disrupts a system that views human bodies as a tool for production and labor. It is a counter narrative. We know that we are not machines. We are divine.
I believe all of us in America need to embrace “rest as a tool for [our] own liberation.” The Protestant Work Ethic has commodified workers and minimized our value. Western capitalist society has taught us not to listen to what our bodies need. We are much more than intelligent labor, but we aren’t always treated that way.
This reminds me of another post I wrote back before the pandemic about rest as resistance to capitalism. I’ve written about my own need for rest and rejuvenation in the past as well. It would seem this need for rest is a recurring theme in my life too.
What about your life? Take a few moments to close your eyes and listen to your body. Are you tired? Could you benefit from a nap right now? Is there a longing within you to explore rest as resistance? How might you investigate—and invest in—rest more fully, now and in the days ahead?