We overfish our waters
We deplete the soil
We exhaust the resources of the planet.
Do we do the same to ourselves?
We live, it seems, amidst a culture that values
Doing over being.
Work over rest.
And maybe that leads to over-work, over-consumption,
and exploitation of the planet’s gifts
and one another.
Is the answer to slow down?
That seems wrong.
There is so much to be done
To feed ourselves and loved ones,
To address social injustice and oppression.
To meet the challenges of the climate crisis.
Don’t the times we are living in require action on all fronts?
We can’t rest and feed our families.
We can’t slow down in the face of injustice.
We can’t stop in the midst of the climate crisis.
Slowing down, stopping, resting can seem irrelevant, tone-deaf, idealistic.
The urgency and gravity of the dilemmas we face seem to negate the possibility of rest.
There are wise voices who suggest that, as counter-intuitive, as paradoxical as it may seem, slowing down, resting, pausing is precisely what is needed.
Philosopher, activist and writer Bayo Akomolafe offers this provocation:
“The times are urgent, let us slow down.”
Slowing down so that we may hear
To see what we might learn in, and from, stillness.
In her manifesto Rest is Resistance, Tricia Hersey of the Nap Ministry declares that rest can indeed be resistance to the oppressive culture of overwork.
In rest we can reclaim our power and assert our most basic humanity. We open space for our own liberation and that of others.
To be sure, to rest in the face of personal and global dilemmas may sound paradoxical, impractical, and unachievable. Possible only for the privileged.
But what if we could? What if we could press pause, even for a moment?
These words from Robin Wall Kimmerer:
Perhaps that’s it, after all.
Maybe by shimmering at the edge
Floating lazily on the pond
As paradoxical and challenging as it may seem
We do the work of the world.
We are settlers on Treaty 13 Land, the traditional territories of many Indigenous Nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples, and home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Peoples from across Turtle Island. We are committed to honouring the history this land bears witness to, responding to the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, and walking lightly on the Earth. A portion of proceeds from all our offerings are sent to: The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and The Nii’kinaaganaa Foundation.
The Inside Outside Retreat Centre, Centre for Social Innovation (CSI), 720 Bathurst St., Toronto, ON, M5S2R4