Tag Archives: Nap Ministry

2021: Meeting the moment #4

In a week with new tenants in the White House, where Elon Musk offers a $100M prize to develop carbon sequestration (I suggest he plants trees) and where the hospitals in London reached capacity, there are so many moments to meet. The poignancy of the about to be inauguarated gazing into a pool as the sun set, felt like mirror the world had been waiting to see, where stopping and being still and holding the moment with the lightest touch brought us deeper into our truth and took a step down into the place where the light shifts on the water to decorate what had been desecrated.

To stop and to hold in place what must be held is a feeling well known to the infant that needs to be swaddled so tightly so that wriggles are banished and then with a gentle rock sleep arrives. Once rested the child emerges refreshed, ready and able to fully participate once more in the world around them. I thought this moment by the pool was just that – a wrapping up, a solid, unyielding, gathering up of loss and grief, bundled together in a simple and uncompromising grip of full attention. Taking the time to stop is a meme for our times.

The rise of the napping resistence movement and the action of a nap as a political act. Nap Ministry founded by Tricia Hersey believe rest is a form of resistance and name sleep deprivation as a racial and social justice issue.  Echoes of Audre Lorde and legacy of Rose Parks can be found in her work and the movement growing about napping as a form of disrupting capitalism. Meeting the moment rarely needs to new technology, but it always needs an examination of power and always begins with a stop. While I cheekily tweeted Elon about his quest for world’s best carbon sequestrian technology to invest in – I said plant trees. I could just have easily said stop what you are doing. For systems to change and new ones to emerge stopping what you are doing is the first act. It is usually the hardest, unable to let go of our addiction to whatever it is that is holding that action in place in our lives, giving us meaning, strengthening a pathway. Making a new path, starts with our own neuronal pathways is an energy intensive challenge. It is maintaining a discipline of repeated actions and thoughts regulating our emotions, and it is up against old patterns that are easy, seductive and so familiar that to not pay attention to them feels like its own kind of infidelity to self.

Stopping giving attention to what harms us and noticing what we are addicted too leads us to what we want to be and who we want to become. We might need to nap along the way, advancing ourselves to the future that becomes us. We might need to find new paths that are still hidden, we might need to follow some unlikely thoughts to make those paths and do deeper into the woods, we will always though have to start with a stop.

Sometimes

by David Whyte

Sometimes
if you move carefully
through the forest

breathing
like the ones
in the old stories

who could cross
a shimmering bed of dry leaves
without a sound,

you come
to a place
whose only task

is to trouble you
with tiny
but frightening requests

conceived out of nowhere
but in this place
beginning to lead everywhere.

Requests to stop what
you are doing right now,
and

to stop what you
are becoming
while you do it,

questions
that can make
or unmake
a life,

questions
that have patiently
waited for you,

questions
that have no right
to go away.

Photo by Jose Aragones on Unsplash

Year of activism #37

Rage has a place in activism, as does rest. Sometimes you need to rest after rage and other times rest before rage. Both these responses are often tainted for me by deep sadness. Rage, exasperation can lead to inertia as can resting, pausing to stillness to do nothing. They both provide fuel as well. Energy stored can be released and in service and partnership with others who perhaps are yet to move through their own season rage or rest.

I noticed this week, how domesticated my rage has become, more of a pussy cat than a a tiger. Rage has been the source of much creativity for me in the past and a release into the wild of ideas and actions; it has and still is in the bedrock of my activism. A rage against injustice, exclusion and more often or not turning up as a rage against numbness that leads to lack of imagination. I am curious about how to have rage without being exhausted and know that over the decades I have found ways to measure myself and energy, to do what I can, mainly by sharing the vision with others, joining with others and taking solace in my limits as gift to make spaces for others. What has been niggling at me this week, and it has led me to some resting, is a reflection on why rage alone cannot sustain, and how to keep the flame alive when the rage gets tamed. I am wrestling with the idea that my rage has got house-trained over the many years and conversations constantly shifting to adapt to fit into systems and spaces that have been the incubator for the rage in the first place. My inclination in more recent times has been to move away from those spaces and create alternatives, rather than fix or fit the existing ones. I know this approach to be energising, hopeful, creative, constructive – but (and I am using but very deliberately) – my rage the original source has quelled.

I shared my numbness with Vicki Saunders (SheEO) and her balm was a teaching from Ecko Aleck of Sacred Matriarch Productions which appears below. The sanctity of drawing up energy and letting it rise is not unknown to me, it is fuel, potential, an unleashing from depths, it is blessings from the “wisdom born of pain”, it is the deep time memories in the DNA of my own ancestral heritage. A healing hug, or at the least blowing a kiss, to my own narrative of rage feels welcome and invitational. Rhythms of rest to be embedded and as The Nap Ministry folks are teaching, rest is a form of resistance, drawing on Audre Lorde’s advice of a generation past. We have a rich vein of downing tools, going on strike, not turning up, resting on the Sabbath, as examples of protest in our history. Rest and rage are perhaps twin lessons we need both and not forget to do both.

Grief seems to fit in the middle of rest and rage for me. When grief turns up, I turn inward, it is not fuel for action, it takes hold and has to be coaxed away with tiny acts of hope. Planting something in the garden always helps, spending time with a small person is curative, finding a poem, singing with others, builds some muscle back. Taking a moment of thanks to those who have brought me things for the garden, lent me their children, sent me poems, sung with me and held me in these moments knowingly and unknowingly I give my sincere thanks. There is rage and there is rest. There is grief and there is healing. These coexist for the activist who is pilgrim.

PS: It is a year since I started walking the camino and walking continues to offer a way of being in the world and sending love to the peregrinas – sacred women on sacred paths.