A friend of mine who is a doctoral candidate at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology is conducting research on the question of rest and restlessness as areas of theological concern. She has developed a questionnaire which she is using to gather insights from a variety of persons on these topics, as part of her original research. Here’s a bit of insight into her work, in her own words:
I want to share with you the ways in which I understand and employ the word ‘rest.’ My understanding and use of the word stretches to its widest possible meaning, including not only physical repose but peace of mind and spiritual respite, peace that surpasses understanding and extends beyond merely individual well-being, toward an ideal human state and universal wholeness of shalom. Therefore, to capture the “lack of rest,” I have coined a word ‘rest-less-ness.’ By introducing hyphenation in this existing word, I try to emphasize and preserve the twofold meaning of the word: that of the common use of the word, i.e. an inability to remain “still or motionless, or a lack of quiet, repose, rest,” as well as my emphasis on the spiritual nature of the problem, expressed by St. Augustine, “…O Lord… You made us for Yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in You.” In my own reflections, I have come to understand rest-less-ness as a deep longing of the human heart, which is spiritual at its core but thoroughly embodied, the daily manifestations of which rarely display an explicit connection to religion.
The questionnaire is divided into three parts: the first concerns human rest, the second rest-less-ness, and the third formation. I’m posting the first set of questions here tonight, and will post the other sets over the next few days. Please respond as you see fit. If you would like your input to be considered for her research, please post your response by September 24. Thank you.
Questions concerning Human Rest
- What gives you rest? What do you find restful? When we say “beautiful,” we mean “full of beauty;” then, what are we “full of” when we are restful? What does it mean to call something restful?
- What do you need in order to rest? What do you do — or avoid doing — on your Sabbath day?
- How do you understand the meaning of the ancient monastic phrase, otium negotiotissimum (“always be at rest yet never be idle“)?
- What do you hear when Jesus says, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid (John 14:27)?
- What do you hear when the Hebrews author says that the Sabbath rest still remains for the people of God (Hebrews 3:7-4:13)?
- How would you connect rest and peace?
Thank you for your insights. More questions to come!