ISSUE No. 10 | June 2021
If you’re new to CULTIVARE we welcome you! CULTIVARE is a monthly field guide for life and faith, brought to you by TEND. Each month we explore a specific “field” – a topic or theme through which we seek to cultivate contemplation, engagement, and deeper understanding. Our guiding questions are:
What are you cultivating in your life?
What fruit do you want your life to bear?
Each issue of CULTIVARE is structured into three parts:
Cultivate: Examines a specific “Field” or facet of life and offers questions to unearth and challenge our held perspective; along with concise kernels of truth which we call “Seeds.”
Irrigate: Explores the ways we nurture our understanding, which varies from individual to individual. We offer six means of irrigation: Art, Poetry, Profile, Film, Essay, and Books.
Germinate: Encourages practical ways to engage in becoming more fruitful and free in our lives.
Our name, CULTIVARE, in Spanish means “I will cultivate.” We hope each issue of our field guide will encourage you to do just that – cultivate new thoughts, actions, faith, hope, and fruitful living. We invite you to dig in and DIG DEEP!
For we are partners working together for God, and you are God's field.
(I Corinthians 3:9)
Our theme this month is REST. In the gospel of Matthew we encounter these words from Jesus:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live
freely and lightly.”
(Matthew 11: 28-30 MSG)
If we’re honest with ourselves, many of us would answer YES to Jesus’ three questions. Tired? Yep. Worn out? Yep. Burned out on religion? Yep. While we may yearn for more rest, many of us feel guilty or anxious about taking a rest. We succumb to the urge to keep busy which defines so much of modern life. Researchers point out that Americans have some of the shortest vacations and lunch breaks, and have the longest work week of any developed country. As a result, we suffer from a rest deficit and are subject to significant health consequences; the reality is that most of us need more rest and to learn to rest better. But will we take the steps to change and to confront our rest deficit? Centuries ago, the poet Ovid gave a stark warning: What is without periods of rest will not endure.
In this issue we explore various facets of the topic of rest. We provide a link to the world’s largest study on “Rest and Well-Being.” We introduce you to Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith who differentiates rest from sleep, identifying seven types of rest that we each need. We feature a short film that spotlights the sobering reality of “Karoshi” in Japan – literally death by overworking. We encourage readers to engage with the NOVA documentary film entitled Mysteries of Sleep. We explore the practice of Sabbath through the work of Mark Buchanan, who emphasizes Sabbath’s true purpose: liberation – to heal, to feed, to rescue, to celebrate, to lavish and relish life abundant.
There is growing evidence that spending time resting helps us to make better decisions, lowers risk of depression, boosts memory and bolsters our immune systems. Research on naps, prayer, meditation, nature walks, and learning from the habits of exceptional artists and athletes reveals how mental and emotional breaks replenish attention, solidify memories, and encourage creativity. Poet David Whyte defines rest as the conversation between what we love to do and how we love to be.
This leads us back to the words of Jesus cited above. Beyond Jesus’ three questions, he extends an extraordinary invitation: to rest, to follow, to watch, to learn, to companionship, to freedom. What feelings does Jesus’ invitation evoke in you? How have you historically responded to Jesus’ invitation? How would you like to respond to Jesus’ invitation today? Our earnest hope is that this issue will help you to say an emphatic YES to Jesus and to embark on a new experience and understanding of rest. We hope this issue will help you learn the unforced rhythms of grace. We pray this issue sets you on a path to deeper rest and greater freedom in your life. (DG)
This is what the Lord says:
Stand at the crossroads and look;
ask for the ancient paths,
ask where the good way is, and walk in it,
and you will find rest for your souls.
(Jeremiah 6:16a NIV)
The LORD replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”
(Exodus 33:14 NIV)
Jesus said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
(Mark 6:31b NIV)
A handful of quotes to contemplate and cultivate into your life
Most of the things we need to be most fully alive never come in busyness. They grow in rest. (Mark Buchanan)
For this is the cause why we be not all in ease of heart and soul: that we seek here rest in those things that are so little, wherein is no rest, and know not our God that is All-mighty, All-wise, All-good. For He is the Very Rest. (Julian of Norwich)
Stop for one whole day every week, and you will remember what it means to be created in the image of God, who rested on the seventh day not from weariness but from complete freedom. The clear promise is that those who rest like God find themselves free like God, no longer slaves to the thousand compulsions that send others rushing toward their graves. (Barbara Brown Taylor)
God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you. (Augustine)
In our contemporary context of the rat race of anxiety, the celebration of Sabbath is an act of both resistance and alternative. It is resistance because it is a visible insistence that our lives are not defined by the production and consumption of commodity goods. Such an act of resistance requires enormous intentionality and communal reinforcement amid the barrage of seductive pressures from the insatiable insistences of the market, with its intrusions into every part of our life from the family to the national budget… But Sabbath is not only resistance. It is alternative… The alternative on offer is the awareness and practice of the claim that we are situated on the receiving end of the gifts of God.
Real rest feels like every cell is thanking you for taking care of you. It’s calm, not full of checklists and chores. It’s simple: not multitasking; not fixing broken things.
Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer's day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time. (John Lubbock)
Oh, sweet little boy, beloved little girl, you are so overwhelmed by life sometimes, I know, by the enormity of it all, by the vastness of the possibilities, by the myriad of perspectives available to you. You feel so pressed down sometimes, by all the unresolved questions, by all the information you are supposed to process and hold, by the urgency of things. You are overcome by powerful emotions, trying to make it all "work out" somehow, trying to get everything done "on time," trying to resolve things so fast, even trying not to try at all.
You are exhausted, sweet one, exhausted from all the trying and the not trying, and you are struggling to trust life again. It's all too much for the poor organism, isn't it? You are exhausted; you long to rest. And that is not a failing of yours, not a horrible mistake, but something wonderful to embrace! (Jeff Foster)
There is no music during a musical rest, but the rest is part of the making of the music. In the melody of our life, the music is separated here and there by rests. During those rests, we foolishly believe we have come to the end OF the song. God sends us times of forced leisure by allowing sickness, disappointed plans, and frustrated efforts. He brings a sudden pause in the choral hymns of our lives, and we lament that our voices must be silent. We grieve that our part is missing in the music that continually rises to the ear of our Creator. Yet how does a musician read the rest? He counts the break with unwavering precision and plays his next note with confidence, as if no pause were ever there. God does not write the music of our lives without a plan. Our part is to learn the tune and not be discouraged during the rests.
They are not to be slurred over or omitted, nor used to destroy the melody or to change the key. If we will only look up, God Himself will count the time for us. With our eyes on Him, our next note will be full and clear. If we sorrowfully say to ourselves, "There is no music in a rest," let us not forget that the rest is part of the making of the music. The process is often slow and painful in this life, yet how patiently God works to teach us! And how long He waits for us to learn the lesson! (John Ruskin)
Iowa’s Interstate Rest Areas are Works of Art
When the US interstate highway system was developed nearly 60 years ago, rest areas were included as a safety consideration. When people get off the interstate for a few minutes to stretch their legs, get some fresh air, and use the facilities, they are more alert when they get back behind the wheel. But as many of us can attest, by the 1990s many of those rest areas were in serious need of renovation. Kudos to the Iowa Department of Transportation for seizing the opportunity to show the world, through art, what lies just beyond the interstates.
Nearly 17 million people stop at Iowa’s rest areas each year. For many, those few minutes may be the only interaction they will have with Iowa and its people. “If you can get people to look at art on the way to and from a bathroom, then that’s our best first impression,” says David Dahlquist, an artist and principal at RDG Dahlquist Art Studios in Des Moines. The firm worked on 14 of the 19 immersive rest areas. “I see it as reading a book,” Dahlquist says. “If you can get the public to open the book and read the first page, then they are yours.”
Explore the art from Iowa Interstate Rest Areas and read more about the design process in
this article by Diana Lambdin Meyer in Roadtrippers.
The Peace of Wild Things
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
What We Need Is Here
Geese appear high over us,
pass, and the sky closes. Abandon,
as in love or sleep, holds
them to their way, clear
in the ancient faith: what we need
is here. And we pray, not
for new earth or heaven, but to be
quiet in heart, and in eye,
clear. What we need is here.
By Billy Brummel
Are rest and sleep synonymous? Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith believes the answer to the question is an emphatic NO. Dalton-Smith is an internist, author, and mother who has focused her work on helping the overstressed deal with their work-rest imbalance and to find actionable answers to the thriving lifestyle individuals desire.
There has been much research in recent years covering the vital role that sleep plays in our overall health. So much so that melatonin, night masks, and blue light blocking glasses have all had a meteoric rise in sales, and that’s not to mention the near ubiquity of CPAP machines for the over-50 set these days. Sleep is big business--and for good reason. But even with our new insights regarding sleep’s place as a cornerstone of a healthy life, a large number of people in this country (and across the world) do not feel rested on a daily basis. This is what internist Saundra Dalton-Smith explores in her book Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity.
Dalton-Smith argues that the conversation around rest has been unhelpfully consigned to a sub-category under sleep but in actuality the reverse is true: while sleep is important, it is only a small piece in the larger puzzle of our rest in our lives. In her estimation, rest consists of seven distinct areas that each require regular attention. They include:
The idea is that we are exposed to a steady barrage of stimuli in each of these seven areas throughout the course of any given day and in order to become rested, we need to engage in activities that will provide us with a respite, no matter how brief, from the seven areas of stimulus. When we overemphasize sleep, we can neglect the nudges for siestas that our body gives us during the course of the day, dismissing the feedback as a sign that “we need to go to bed earlier tonight.” Given the choice, too often we choose to keep “the pedal to the metal” until that very last moment of the night when it’s time to drift off into sleep once again. But getting adequate rest means that we cannot stay on the accelerator for the entire day – there must be some kind of ebb and flow to the course of the day with regards to our activity levels. Whereas sleep is entirely passive, rest is an active process that will leave us more energized than a single good night’s sleep ever can.
You can watch Dalton-Smith’s video presentations and engage further with her ideas about rest by exploring the following links:
The 7 Types of Rest Everyone Needs – Ideas.TED.com
Finding Sacred Rest – Jesus Calling
Each month we recommend films focused on our theme
Mysteries of Sleep
From fruit flies to whales, virtually every animal sleeps. But why? Why do we need to spend nearly a third of our lives in such a defenseless state? Scientists are peering more deeply into the sleeping brain than ever before, discovering just how powerful sleep can be, playing a role in everything from memory retention and emotional regulation to removing waste from our brains. So why are we getting so little of it?
Curbing Death by Overwork in Japan
Japan’s sleep deficit is among the worst in the world. Unfortunately, the situation is getting worse. Sleep experts are worried, seeing a labor culture that praises devotion to work over mental and physical health. Japan has a phenomenon known as “Karoshi” – translated literally as “overwork death” – a term related to occupational sudden mortality. The phenomenon of death by overwork is widespread in other parts of Asia as well.
Truly Short Film
Take a Rest!
(1 minute - animated)
Chariots of Fire
Winner of four Academy Awards including Best Picture, Chariots of Fire (1981) turns forty this year. It tells the true story of two young champions at the 1924 Paris Olympics and their religious commitments. Runner Eric Liddell learns that the heats for the 100-metres race will be held on a Sunday. Sadly, he informs Lord Birkenhead of the Olympic Committee that he will not run on the Sabbath. Eric repeats his stand to the Prince of Wales and other dignitaries when they ask him to run for King and Country; he reminds them that his primary allegiance is to God. Teammate Andy, who has already won a medal in the hurdles, comes up with a solution. He suggests Eric take his place in the 400-metres race. On the last day of competition, Eric Liddell runs in the 400 metres. As he is warming up, he is handed a note from the American runner Jackson Scholtz. It reads: "In the Old Book it says 'He that honors me, I will honor.' Good luck." It turns out to be a prophetic word. Available on various streaming services.
By David Whyte
Rest is the conversation between what we love to do and how we love to be.
Rest is the essence of giving and receiving, an act of remembering, imaginatively and intellectually but also physiologically and physically. To rest is to give up on the already exhausted will as the prime motivator of endeavor, with its endless outward need to reward itself through established goals. To rest is to give up on worrying and fretting and the sense that there is something wrong with the world unless we are there to put it right; to rest is to fall back literally or figuratively from outer targets and shift the goal not to an inner static bull’s eye, an imagined state of perfect stillness, but to an inner state of natural exchange.
The template of natural exchange is the breath, the autonomic giving and receiving that forms the basis and the measure of life itself. We are rested when we are a living exchange between what lies inside and what lies outside, when we are an intriguing conversation between the potential that lies in our imagination and the possibilities for making that internal image real in the world. We are rested when we let things alone and let ourselves alone, to do what we do best--breathe as the body intended us to breathe, to walk as we were meant to walk, to live with the rhythm of a house and a home, giving and taking through cooking and cleaning. When we give and take in an easy foundational way we are closest to the authentic self, and closest to that self when we are most rested. To rest is not self-indulgent, to rest is to prepare to give the best of ourselves, and to perhaps, most importantly, arrive at a place where we are able to understand what we have already been given.
In the first state of rest is the sense of stopping, of giving up on what we have been doing or how we have been being. In the second, is the sense of slowly coming home, the physical journey into the body’s un-coerced and un-bullied self, as if trying to remember the way or even the destination itself. In the third state is a sense of healing and self-forgiveness and of arrival. In the fourth state, deep in the primal exchange of the breath, is the give and the take, the blessing and the being blessed and the ability to delight in both. The fifth stage of deep rest is a sense of absolute readiness and presence, a delight in and an anticipation of the world and all its forms, a sense of being the meeting itself between inner and outer, and that receiving and responding occur in one spontaneous movement.
A deep experience of rest is the template of perfection in the human imagination, a perspective from which we gain that most difficult of human virtues: patience, that is; we are able to perceive the outer specific forms of our work and our relationships whilst being nourished by the shared foundational gift of the breath itself. From this perspective, we can be rested while putting together an elaborate meal for an arriving crowd, whilst climbing the highest mountain, moving a herd of sheep along a Cumbrian country lane or sitting at home, surrounded by the chaos of a loving family.
Rested, we are ready for the world but not held hostage by it; rested, we care again for the right things and the right people in the right way. In rest we reestablish the goals that make us more generous, more courageous, more of an invitation, someone we want to remember, and someone others would want to remember too.
From CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words.
David Whyte and Many Rivers Press (Revised version of essay 2018)
Each month we recommend a book focused on our theme.
Book of the Month
THE REST OF GOD
by Mark Buchanan
Unless and until we rest in God, we will never risk for God.
Widely-acclaimed author Mark Buchanan states that what we've really lost is "the rest of God –
the rest God bestows and, with it, that part of Himself we can know only through stillness." Stillness as a virtue is a foreign concept in our society, but there is wisdom in God's own rhythm of work and rest. Jesus practiced Sabbath among those who had turned it into a dismal thing, a day for murmuring and finger-wagging, and He reminded them of the day's true purpose: liberation – to heal, to feed, to rescue, to celebrate, to lavish and relish life abundant.
Practical suggestions to help you go deeper into our theme
1. NINE QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF FOR BETTER SLEEP
The medical professionals at verywell health have compiled a list of nine questions to ask yourself to improve your sleep. Included are helpful statistics for comparison and understanding.
2. REST AND WELL-BEING: World’s Largest Survey – University Durham
More than 18,000 people from 134 different countries took part in the Rest Test, an online survey to investigate the public’s resting habits and their attitudes towards relaxation and busyness.
3. THE POWER OF DEEP REST – Tim Keller in TGC
There is a symbiotic relationship between work and rest. Of course we know this at one level. We get away from work in order to replenish our bodies and minds. Resting, or practicing Sabbath, is also a way to help us get perspective on our work and put it in its proper place. Often we can’t see our work properly until we get some distance from it and re-immerse ourselves in other activities. Then we see that there is more to life than work. With that perspective and rested bodies and minds, we return to do more and better work.
4. TOP TEN POPULAR WAYS TO FEEL RESTED
In a time when people wear busyness as a badge of honor, are we missing out on opportunities to rest our minds and bodies? And what exactly constitutes rest? Is it different for each person and how can you work out what you find most restful?
5. REST QUIZ
Dr. Saundra Dalton-Smith, author of Sacred Rest and highlighted in our Profile section, has devised a free Personal Rest Assessment. Learn what type of rest you have been missing most. Allow 10 minutes to complete the assessment.
6. CHICK-FIL-A Makes More Per Restaurant Than McDonald’s, Starbucks and
Subway Combined . . . and It’s Closed on Sundays
Why a restaurant that’s closed on Sundays makes more per restaurant than any other fast-food restaurant in the country – an Entrepreneur magazine report.
But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.
(Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV)
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Images used in order of appearance:
1. FIELD: Vincent Van Gogh, Noon: Rest from Work after Jean-Francois Millet, 1890.
Musee d’Orsay, Paris
2. SEEDS: Banksy, If You Get Tired, unknown date
3. ART: Mural adorning the wall of an Iowa Rest Area bathroom. Photo courtesy
of RDG Dahlquist Studio
4. POETRY: Richard Mayhew, Sonata, 2018, September Gray Fine Art
5. PROFILE: Carl Larsson, Woman Lying on a Bench, 1913, Louve Museum, Paris
6. FILM: Norman Rockwell, Playbill (Charwomen in Theater), 1946, Norman Rockwell
Museum, Stockbridge, MA
7. ESSAY: David Anderle, Reading Nick Cave, 2004
8. BOOKS: Vincent Van Gogh, The Starry Night, 1889, Museum of Modern Art,
New York, NY
9. DIG DEEPER: Tauno Kangro, The Resting Man, 1995, Shnell Park, Tallinn, Estonia
10. ROOTED: Kate Spencer, St. Paul's Butterfly, from Philip Walwyn’s More Rain More Rest:
The Days of Sugar Cane in St. Kitts – Short Sketches, 2018
TEAM CULTIVARE: Duane Grobman (Editor), Lori Andrews, Beth Bolsinger, Billy Brummel, Ben Hunter, Eugene Kim, Rita McIntosh, Jason Miller, Jason Pearson (Design: Pearpod.com)