After our early morning exercise class, Chris and I take time for rest before going about our day. The hour of physical effort tires us out just enough to require some down time. But if we rest too long, 1inertia sets in, sometimes making it difficult to gather energy and will for what’s next. We live a fairly unscheduled calendar, so that’s not usually a problem. I’m a bit bothered, though, by the possibility that I might be resting too much, giving away these golden days of retirement to inertia-fed notions that I should rest often.
Inertia usually gets a 2bad rap—especially when it’s applied to people, organizations, bureaucracies or political decision-making. Inactivity is seen as unproductive, wasteful or irresponsible. By extension, yielding to inertia—resting—might not be a desirable character trait.
Enter 3sabbath, another way of thinking about rest. Theologians now concur that sabbath rest can be purposeful, renewing us for our callings. Re-energized by sleep, inactivity, a time away or enjoyable diversions, we’re better able to take up the privileges and responsibilities of our stations in life.
That makes sense in so many ways, even in these later years of life. Exercise may tire Chris and me, but when coupled with rest, it equips us even better to fulfill our roles in God’s mission. Whether a daily nap, a day off or a vacation, sabbath times serve as refueling opportunities, battery-charging times and reorganizing moments that enable us to do what God requires and invites.
One additional thought: Sometimes rest provides us with much-needed opportunities for quiet, thoughtful consideration of our spirits and our priorities. In that case, inertia might help disconnect us from frenetic, even mindless lifestyles that don’t accomplish much.
All good reasons for us to continue to rest…!
1Coined in the 17th century by German astronomer Johann Kepler, inertia describes how matter retains its state of rest unless some outside force compels movement. Kepler relied on Latin derivations that denote unskillfulness, ignorance, inactivity or idleness. The ideas of apathy, passiveness or inactivity appear around 1822.
2 Verbal characterizations using this word include constructs such as ”overcome inertia,” “fall into inertia,” “suspend inertia,” “inertia dulls,” “inertia prevents” or “inertia weakens.”
3An ancient Hebrew term, shabbath, (day of rest) names God’s resting on the Seventh Day of Creation. Derivations include sabbatical (one year in seven) and sabbatical year (from Mosaic Law describing a temporary cessation of tilling, forgiveness of foreign debt and release of slaves.)
(To receive these entries when they are posted, go to the upper right hand corner of the top banner and click on the three dots or parallel lines. Scroll down to the subscription form and enter your information.)