Resting is Doing

In early 2023, I was healing from my first surgery and headed into my second surgery. A member of my congregation sent me a poem. I took this poem to heart!


If only we could see the power in rest.
If only we could attach to it, the worth it so deserves.
If only we could open our minds to the idea, that everything in nature has its time to rise and its time to descend.
That each of these acts is just as important as the other.
And that is exactly as it must be.
If only we could see the courage it takes to lay aside the worries, the fears and the comparison, just for a few hours, to let the mind, spirit and body come together again.
Doing the one thing they all require so much… nothing.
If only we could see the power in rest.
Because resting is very much doing.

By Donna Ashworth
From ‘Life’

As I said, I took this poem to heart!


Yes, that deserves bold caps lock words. This year has become a deep dive into the, “Well, it happened,” world.

Most of us have a good understanding that just one moment can sweep you off your feet and flip you into the, “Well, it happened,” world.

I’m learning that difference— “it may happen” or “it happened.” I also feel the need to acknowledge—

Some of us have such high anxiety considering, “It may happen” that we over plan for it. That anxiety can become completely debilitating even though you are actually physically healthy.

So, recognizing these worlds—

It may happen

It happened

While acknowledging all those that live in the areas surrounding that super-limiting dualistic example—

I dove straight into the deep end of “it happened.” See, when I was sent that poem in April, I COULD take this poem to heart. I mean I’d be back to work in a few short weeks. I can rest for two or three weeks. As a matter of fact, I’ll take five weeks of rest! However, I did not sign up for what will be at least 41 weeks! That’s getting into the next level, life altering, seeing life a little differently state. Well, it happened.

Following the cancer diagnosis, another member of the congregation sent me a note that profoundly put words to something I was experiencing, but had yet to articulate—

“No one expects to have their successful career interrupted at the prime of life.” Cheers to my 45th year of life!

And, Amen!

I’ve been a doer my whole life. I even remember a time when my sister went to college, and I was still in High School. She came home for a visit and while I don’t remember much detail, I do remember her saying to me, “Do you know you can stay home for a whole day? It’s ok.” I’m sure I was in and out and doing all sorts of things at the time.

It’s almost embarrassing to share that I actually really didn’t think that staying home for a whole day was OK. Her statement was such a shocker—it still strikes me hard at age 45. I mean, if you’re not on the move, what are you doing? I have never thought, resting is doing!

I remember another friend, more recently, saying, “I don’t know what people who don’t have kids do with all the spare time.” I was silently thinking, “Oh, we find ways to fill it!” I’ve had my neighbors comment about how little I am home. Things shifted when I got two Brittney Spaniels and they gave me a reason to be home. BUT as my congregation can attest to… I would actually take them to work with me because I knew I’d be working more than 8 hours. My house is just a little too far away for a quick potty break.

So, it’s a jolt when you go from 150 to 20. Most of us have experienced this, think 2020. I definitely didn’t think I’d do it again in 2023. I’d say having had the 2020 experience followed by the slow progression to 2023 has made this even more interesting.  People are traveling more than they were in 2019. All the shut-down stuff is back in full, some things are modified, but we’re back at it, though a little more cautiously.

And now, I’m beginning to hear those whispers of remembering some of the nice things that happened in 2020. None of it about COVID-19, all of that was horrible and still is for many. Especially those who did not get to “shut down” and became the frontline workers we all appreciated (and still do).

The whispers I hear are from those who had a different experience. One that called them to become idle. I now hear whispers of longing for all the days when our long list of obvious “must dos” like go to school or work turned into “can’t dos.” I cleaned my car out recently and found in my glove box a note written on church letterhead giving me permission to be out on the job during the shut downs. I had totally forgotten about that!

The whispers are really a call to go back to having permission to be idle. This tells me that deep in our being we know this call to rest. We actually having a longing for it. After all, it is a commandment. Sure, we must “do” to survive, but we’ve learned to “do” on steroids (and yes, the irony that I write this while on steroids is not lost on me).

I think we’re at a time in our culture that we do too much and it is harming our health! But there is this nagging in us to be more. Be seen. Be better. Be wiser. Be busy. I think that in this idle year I’m learning that I like who I am. I don’t really need to BE more of anything. I get to be me. Not the me that outward sources press in to take root. I’ll admit, the ego strokes are nice. I dig them. But I mean it when I say, “I’ve had to let go of my ego this year.” And in the long run, it’s not my ego that’s going to get me through this year.

Admittedly, I’ve only let go of part of my ego. The part where I can show up at the ER at 3am and end up having someone else wipe my ass without a hint of embarrassment. I am full of gratitude because all I need in those moments is for the pain to end. Now don’t get me wrong, I still very much have hubris. But, I feel this new itch. One to let it go. Let go of my doer side ego. And I have this inkling that when I do, I’ll find a new freedom. A freedom of being.

This gives finding freedom in Christ a whole new meaning to me. As God created, we are connected with all of creation. Yet, our egos seem to separate us. Egos make us feel like we’re better than or the saviors of. The earth is here to serve me and my needs. OR I am here to serve and preserve the earth. Two ideas both led by ego. Dualistic thinking is everywhere, even in this post. “It happened.” vs “It may happen.” But if we can let go of the— this or that— part of us, we are free to realize that we’re part of creation. We are not above or below it. We are PART of it. We are God created, and in that, there is freedom. Freedom to be.

There is truth that when we are more at peace, it is easier to share that peace with others. When we are more uptight, it is easier to share that stress with others. So, what do you want to share with the world? Think of my fill my cup and let it overflow moment.  When we can free our minds to finally tap into the energy of the universe, resting really becomes doing!

6 responses to “Resting is Doing”

  1. Donna Avatar

    Dana, Thank you for sharing your wisdom. Sending you lots of love, strength, healing and good vibes. xo

  2. Beth Avatar

    Very profound thoughts Dana. Thank you for sharing. I do wish for a little bit less “busy” at times.

  3. Margaret Vredeveld Avatar
    Margaret Vredeveld

    Thank you, Dana! I remember starting a session on meditation with the words, “Are we human doings or human beings?”life does pull us into times when we get to explore just being.

    My mantra is awareness, acceptance and action. I become aware of my situation. I accept my feelings. I take action. Many times the action is rest.

    Love you! Keep leaning into your recovery with everything it brings. I’ll keep listening and praying.


  4. Sherry Pulverente Avatar
    Sherry Pulverente

    Love you!!

  5. Debi Avatar

    Thinking of you today Pastor Dana, some days are better. Some days are worse you seem to look for blessings ,,you and to try your best to be positive. May you get enough rest, It’s hard to do it all, but,, you can do your best

  6. Bob Frei Avatar
    Bob Frei

    Excellent advice. Nila has repeated it to me on a nearly daily basis as she has been nursing me through several challenges. I trust you are also taking that advice. I suspect God has plans for you that require that you be healed, rested, and ready to get back to God’s work.

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