WorshipWeb: Braver/Wiser: A Weekly Message of Courage and Compassion

The Rest That Will Heal Us

By Atena O. Danner

“Rest is reparations.”
—Tricia Hersey, Nap Bishop of the Nap Ministry

A photo, from above, of a Black mother with daughter lying down on cozy couch in living room, cuddling and napping together at home.

I recently bridged some holidays with time off to create a two-week vacation, declaring it Hibernation Season. I vowed to slow down, enjoy myself, resist unnecessary urgency, and let my mind and body renew. Intentionally adding measures of comfort to my routines felt wonderful, yet I found myself repeatedly defending my right to ease and demanding justification for my self-care. Audre Lorde was right (of course): resisting this programming is radical.

I am a Black, queer, neurodivergent woman. My experience at the intersection of these identities has meant a life of intersecting hustles for well-being, because of the ways people and systems respond to these identities. Every day is a decathlon of hustles when I’m just trying to be. Increased risk of heart disease, depression, breast cancer, infant mortality, COVID-19, and more, for so many of us just trying to be.

It is hurtful and infuriating that people accept that that’s just the nature of our story—particularly here in the United States. Our society is exceedingly effective at pissing on Black people and calling it rain, so people accept that we are naturally defiled. This seemingly inexhaustible cultural lie is applied to queer lives and disabled lives, too: when we are made to believe we’re fundamentally worthless and must earn our right to live, then others can profit from the belief that our reason for living is to prove and to earn and to justify our lives. To hustle.

As a Black, queer, neurodivergent somebody, if I want well-being to be my truth, I must reclaim and protect it. This is why I committed to a season of rest, and why my citadel is my warm bed. Every chance I get, I am reclaiming well-being.

Spell for Rest and Renewal

I draw on the power of houseplants, candlelight, laughter, and dreaming to reclaim the rest that will heal me. In defiance of white supremacy, ableism, and patriarchy, I refuse to light the other end of my candle. I will boldly protect my softness, defend my sleep, and liberate all of my unassigned minutes, hours, and days. I am one soft animal among many: a cell in the breathing world’s body. Let us be cared for as such. May it be so.