What does rest in a restless world look like? Kate Rademacher, public health expert and author of Reclaiming Rest, talks with Amy Julia Becker about rest, burnout, healing, social justice, and the difference between religious and secular approaches to rest.
“A graduate of Wesleyan University in Connecticut and the Gillings School of Global Public Health at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Kate’s professional work is focused on international public health. Kate is the author of three books, including Reclaiming Rest.”
- Website: katerademacher.com
- Instagram: @kateradnc
- Facebook: @kate.rademacher.author
- Twitter: @kateradNC
On the Podcast:
- To Be Made Well audiobook
- Kate’s books: Following the Red Bird: First Steps into a Life of Faith, Their Faces Shone: A Foster Parent’s Lessons on Loving and Letting Go, and Reclaiming Rest: The Promise of Sabbath, Solitude, and Stillness in a Restless World
- How to Heal Our Divides
- To Be Made Well by Amy Julia Becker
- World Health Organization on burn-out
- Genesis 2:15, Psalm 23, Isaiah 30:15
- Amy Julia’s Op-Ed New York Times essay: I’m Thankful Every Day for the Decision I Made After My Prenatal Tests
“Without an understanding of God as the Savior—not as us as the Savior—it’s a recipe for extreme overwork, extreme exhaustion because you’re working yourself to try to save the world.”
“For me, the Sabbath is a real call to humility because is reminds me that I am not a little god. God is God.”
“Sabbath is more than [self-care]. Sabbath is a a return to God. Sabbath is a return to rest in God, and it is a return to recognizing that deep rest and deep peace are intrinsically part of God’s creation.”
“The Sabbath is being left behind…our world is hungry for rest; our world is so stressed out and lost and broken. And the church has this gift [of Sabbath]. Why are we not leaning into that?”
“Jesus is not about legalism. As Christians, we cannot be legalistic about this. I think the danger and the dance of any spiritual practice is how do you not turn it into something that’s full of “shoulds” and legalistic…and at the same time is a discipline?”
“[We recognize] that [Sabbath] is a discipline and that we can’t be legalistic in our spiritual disciplines.”
“If we’re just compulsively reacting…without asking Jesus, ‘Where do you want me right now? Where do you want me to serve? Where do you want me to show up?”—so that it’s God-driven and God-led—how can you ask that question and listen for the answer without pausing in prayer, pausing in rest?…That’s the tool that we have to return to God and listen for God’s word in the still, small voice.”
“The Sabbath message is we’re worth more than our work. We’re worth more than just our productivity. We’re worth more just because we’re beloved children of God.”
“[The Sabbath] is weekly…a commitment and a discipline to a weekly cadence of rest because we all forget and we all revert to…thinking that our worth comes from our doing. Sabbath, for me, helps me reorient and remember.”
Season 5 of the Love Is Stronger Than Fear podcast connects to themes in my newest book, To Be Made Well…you can order here! Learn more about my writing and speaking at amyjuliabecker.com.
*A transcript of this episode will be available within one business day, as well as a video with closed captions on my YouTube Channel.
Note: This transcript is autogenerated using speech recognition software and does contain errors. Please check the corresponding audio before quoting in print.
For me, the Sabbath is a real call to humility because it reminds me that I’m not a little God that God is God. And that resting is yes, absolutely resting is great self care and all the evidence points to that, you know, rest and sleep are critical to our health and wellbeing. They’re critical to our functioning. They’re critical to our productivity and Sabbath is more than that. Sabbath is a return to God. A Sabbath is a return to rest in God, and it is a return to recognizing that deep rest and deep peace are intrinsically part of God’s creation.
Amy Julia (42s):
Hi friends, I’m Amy, Julia Becker. And this is love is stronger than fear. A podcast about pursuing hope and healing in the midst of personal pain and social division. I have an announcement to make before I tell you about today’s guest. And this is so exciting. The audio book version of To Be Made Well comes out today. I had the pleasure and it really was a fun experience. I actually really enjoyed it. I had the pleasure of reading this book out loud. So if you like listening to me talk, which I’m kind of guessing you might, because you wouldn’t be listening to this podcast. Otherwise if you enjoy listening to me talk, then you can download the audio version of, To Be Made.
Amy Julia (1m 25s):
Well, right now onto today’s episode, I am talking with Kate Rademacher. She is the author of a beautiful and insightful book about Sabbath rest. We get to talk about rest and burnout and healing and the difference between a religious approach to rest and a secular approach to rest and social justice and so much more. I’m so glad you’re here with us. I am here today with Kate Rademacher. I just learned how to say her last name, and I’m very excited about that, but I’m also very excited to be here with you. Kate is the author of reclaiming rest, the promise of Sabbath, solitude and stillness in a restless world.
Amy Julia (2m 7s):
I mean, what a great title, Kate. Welcome. Thank you for being here.
Kate (2m 10s):
Thank you so much, Amy. Julia, I’m so excited.
Amy Julia (2m 13s):
Well, this has been so fun because we’ve kind of gotten to know about each other and about each other’s books. I think through Instagram, I think someone on Instagram, I mean, who knew that social media could be such a wonderful source of connection, but I think someone made a comment on a post that I wrote a couple months ago. It was like, have you read reclaiming rest? And I was like, no, but I love the title of that book so much. And so I, you know, got it, ordered it on Amazon, probably read it in a few days and I just really soaked in your story. And one of the things I love about your book is that you are telling your own personal story, but you’ve grounded it in so much research theology, but not just the theology there, there’s so much insight to it.
Amy Julia (3m 0s):
So before we talk specifically about your book and Sabbath and rest, I do want to give listeners just a little bit of a sense of your story. And so I’m wondering if you can tell us your story with the, how I came to write this book in mind, right? Like how did this all connect to a book about reclaiming rest?
Kate (3m 19s):
Yeah, totally. And I think actually we first connected also through your, your book, how to, that you’ve contributed to how to heal our divides. So we both know Ryan line. So I went to the launch event for that and really, and I heard you speak there and I was really impressed. And so full disclosure to your listeners, I have been concurrently reading your book To Be Made Well. So I think we have a mutual fan club going and yeah. So it’s been really an a and I would love to talk to you on this recording about your book, because I have a lot of questions for you too. So maybe we can have a, I can interview you and you can interview me.
Amy Julia (3m 56s):
I am always so happy to talk. I own work, but also yours. So let’s do that.
Kate (4m 3s):
Yeah. So just a little bit about my background. I have kind of a quirky background. I grew up outside of Boston and I currently live in chapel hill, North Carolina, and I was raised kind of quintessentially like spiritual nut, but not religious. I was raised in a church community. I was raised Unitarian Universalist, but not as a Christian. So, you know, you and your listeners may or may not know a lot about the you church, but you know, it’s really a place for, for people to come together who are searchers, who respect world’s religious traditions. But my mom, my mom, who is a social justice activist, was pretty allergic and is allergic to Christianity. So I was never really exposed to much Christian thought or certainly not much Christian practice.
Kate (4m 45s):
When I was in my twenties, I met my husband and he’s a very, very serious, like serious with a capital S Buddhist practitioner and scholar and teacher. And so he has been actually an amazing source of inspiration and kind of both inspiration in his, in his ability to take refuge, which is a topic I’ve been thinking a lot about the word refuge, you know, and, and also in his sort of like robust intellectual realism about it. So he’s, he really inspired me both, you know, to be more serious about who I was as a faith person. And, and, and, and so I w I was kind of searching in that vein and one thing led to another, and actually I have a pretty, very surprising to me was called to a life in Christ.
Kate (5m 39s):
So I had a pretty pivotal or a pivotal conversion experience when I really felt Jesus come to me and call me to him. And that was the topic of my first book. My first memoir is falling red bird, which was published in 2017, following the red bird for steps into a life of faith. And so it describes that journey. It describes the, the journey of like how that all went down, you know, how, how, how, how and why I got to know Jesus for the first time and how he called me to him and how I ended up being baptized and as a Christian in my early thirties, and then confirmed in the Episcopal church, but then what the Mo the rest of the book is about is sort of my first year, my first year after my baptism as a Christian, as I was trying, because one of the things I really get from my husband is like, Buddhism focuses so much on the, how on the, how do you operationalize these things?
Kate (6m 37s):
Like, what do you do when you’re angry? What do you do when you are, you know, doing self cherishing? And so I brought that to my Christian faith, like, how do I do this? And I, and I have a pretty big career in international public health. So I feel like I’ve had lots of opportunities to practice, you know, in a, in a fast moving work environment that doesn’t always, you know, that perhaps pays lip service, for example, to like humility or discernment, but like really, how do you discern where God is calling you like in everyday? So then one of the chapters in my book was about Sabbath keeping. And my story around Sabbath keeping is that before I was even before I was baptized or, or called to Christ, really, I actually was exposed to Sabbath, keeping as a spiritual practice when I was still a Unitarian.
Kate (7m 25s):
And I loved it. I’m a quintessential overachiever. It sounds like you and I have that in common. And, and, and again, I I’d love to talk to you about your book because you do such a nice job exploring this, which is like that. I really felt the ways that that kind of overachieving stressed out hyper, hyper ambitious culture had failed me. Yeah. You have a, you have a sentence in your book like that, that it, that that world failed you. And that’s what I felt. And I felt like when I learned about Sabbath as a spiritual practice, I was like, bingo. You know, Sabbath keeping like, this is an answer. And it’s like been in front of my face the whole time it’s been around for millennia. Like it’s, it’s God’s gift to the world. It’s got it’s part of creation.
Kate (8m 7s):
You know, the rabbis teaching us that God, you know, creation was not finished until God rested. Like, so it’s not just like a gift that God gave us Sabbath. Rest is part of God’s creation, like, amen. Right. And so I was like the shiny new, literally still wet from the full baptism. I was baptized by full immersion. So I’m like still wet from the baptism. And I show up as this like eager, excited, shiny new Christian, like excited to do Sabbath and community, like excited that everybody, all my new Christian congregants are going to do Sabbath with me. And finally, I’m going to have role models. I
Amy Julia (8m 46s):
Know they’re going to teach you though. All these things you’ve been missing
Kate (8m 49s):
Exactly. Teach me all the Sabbath ins and outs and like keep us each other accountable. And I was really devastated and surprised. And honestly, I was pissed because when I showed up as a Christian, I found out the sad truth, which is Christian Sabbath keeping has largely fallen out of practice, you know, with no surprise. So I’m, I kind of am embarrassed about my naivete about that. And I’m embarrassed because I really was like, angry and disappointed about this for like a decade. And so that anger, you know, sometimes God, like sometimes I think the anger can be like the holy spirit working on us, you know? And so it turned, that’s what turned into the book, that energy.
Kate (9m 31s):
And so my, so the book is about Sabbath keeping and my, you know, multi-year exploration of Sabbath keeping. Yeah. So it’s just been really fun. And then I’ll just say one more thing. I know that’s been a long, a long prologue, but you know, I’ve really, I work in international public health and what I’ve been able to do since the book came out is sort of pivot the topic and also be, I’m talking a lot about burnout because burnout is a major issue in our global workforce. And so it’s been really interesting also to sort of talk about Sabbath, keeping of the spiritual practice and burnout as a pervasive issue in our society. So, so it’s really been a journey of many blessings, including getting to be you. So,
Amy Julia (10m 11s):
And your book, I think is also, it speaks to that. And I was, I really loved when you were describing, this is from a chapter in the book called Sabbath ambivalence, where you were talking about like feeling silly for being so disappointed. And I just loved you ask the question, what did it matter if other churchgoers included a day-long Sabbath, observance and their spiritual repertoire? It wasn’t as if people were saying cheerfully at coffee hour, well, I’m off to sleep with my friend’s wife this afternoon, still didn’t our communal prayer suggest that observing the Sabbath is just as much a commandment as the prohibition against adultery. And I just loved the way you put that. Cause it was like witty and funny and cute and whatever. And yet you’re also like, well, wait in the same way that you’re not off to sleep with your friend’s wife this afternoon.
Amy Julia (10m 57s):
Why are you not keeping this habit? Like what’s going on here? And I’m just curious if you, I know you have like, Y Y are, well, actually let’s back up for a minute and make sure that we’re defining our terms. So what is Sabbath? What, like, what is Sabbath keeping? What is different about a religious commitment to Sabbath and a secular commitment to some version of self care, right. Can you just do a little bit of like defining our terms and then we can talk about why we don’t do it?
Kate (11m 27s):
Yeah. I mean, so I think the last question you asked, which is like, sort of, how is that theological understanding of Sabbath keeping different from sort of a secular version of self care? Like I write a lot about that. And I think a lot about that, because that, to me is one of the biggest gifts of Sabbath, which is that it, isn’t just the self care mantra that we are surrounded by, you know, which we all know and love, which really, and I, this is part of how I opened the book is like the self humanist ethic really puts us at the center of the story. Whereas Sabbath puts God at the center of the story, you know, and that, for me, again, I was raised by a mom who was a social justice warrior, and she really taught me that I had to make the world a better place, which is great, but there was no sense of like where my job ended and where God’s job begins or, you know, and so in the sort of secular humanist version of that, like all of the responsibility is on my shoulders and our collective shoulders.
Kate (12m 27s):
And that’s, and that’s like on one hand, you know, I’m not trying to diminish the importance of our work in the world, but without an understanding of God, God, as the savior, not as us as the savior, it’s a recipe for extreme overwork, extreme exhaustion because, you know, you’re just working yourself to try to save the world. So for me, the Sabbath is a real call to humility. And because it reminds me that I’m not a little God, that God is God. And that resting is yes, absolutely resting is great self-care and all the evidence points to that, you know, breast and sleep are critical to our health and wellbeing.
Kate (13m 13s):
They’re critical to our functioning. They’re critical to our productivity and Sabbath is more than that. Sabbath is a return to God. A Sabbath is a return to rest in God. And it is a return to recognizing that deep rest and deep peace are intrinsically part of God’s creation. So like what an amazing gift. And again, I really feel like the Christian Church, I mean, this is the message. One of the messages is like the Christian Church as a, as an institution is leaving this. I think there’s a huge missed opportunity. The Sabbath is being left behind and in a culture where we have we’re in a multi billion dollar wellness industry, you know, and everybody’s doing, you know, yoga, which is, which is great, like go to the gym, do yoga, do mindfulness.
Kate (14m 4s):
All of these stuff are evident. Evidence-based strategies to reduce stress, increased health, et cetera. But our, our world is hungry for rest. Our world is so stressed out and lost and broken and, and the church, you know, has this gift and like, why are we not leaning into that? So that’s, I think the quote, you, you know, it’s kind of like, why aren’t we, so that’s kind of like, again, I mean, we can say a lot more about that, but to your second question about like defining what is the Sabbath. I mean, those are the questions I really came to as a new Christian. Like when do I do it? How do I do it?
Kate (14m 43s):
When do I stop? When do I start? How do I, how do I operationalize this? And again, the church has really silent on that. You know, we used, we used to have, you know, not that, not that long ago. And some, some of your listeners I’m sure grew up in families are still grew up in families observing the Sabbath. So there, there are some cultural norms that still, but there certainly were cultural norms, but without that, you’re doing it on your own. And that’s, again, a real, I think sad for me, it’s been a real sad thing.
Amy Julia (15m 14s):
It’s challenging. Right? I mean, I just remember this is so ironic because I remember being in Denmark as a family, I don’t know, maybe 10 years ago, 15 years ago, I guess it was just my, and Denmark is a much more secular culture than we are. And yet they still, at that time shut down on Sunday. I mean, it was like the grocery store is not open, like figure it out the other six days of the week because we are not going to hustle on Sundays. And it was so nice. Cause it was just like, it’s not an option. And I guess that’s kind of a pain, but like nobody was seeing it as a pain because it was just like, no, everybody gets to rest today. And I feel like now I’m in this position as well because we, as a family really do also attempt, want to practice Sabbath.
Amy Julia (16m 2s):
And that includes going to church for us. And it includes napping and it includes being, taking a family walk and having family meals. And it’s a lot of rest and being together, but you know, my daughter last week had two soccer games on Sunday as she going to be a part of that team. Well, if she is then what are we going to do about that? Or whether it’s, oh, shoot, we just forgot. We don’t have any eggs. And so the market is open until two o’clock in our town. It’s not even open all day, but it’s up until two. So if we remember in time, we can scoot down and get the, you know, so the fact that we are not doing it collectively does make it harder literally to practice, not to mention one of the things I’ve been intending to practice, actually this started after reading your book, it’s like, okay, a full 24 hours where my phone is in airplane mode.
Amy Julia (16m 53s):
And the first time I tried that it was on the one hand glorious, like I took a deep, long nap on the couch. Like I could just tell the difference between, cause I wasn’t even responding to things on my phone. Typically it was like, I was just seeing that they came in and like, not even having the, seeing the messages coming in meant that I was resting in a way that I wasn’t before, but I also like missed various things in terms of like, you know, somebody who needed a ride to church and somebody who was asking about, I mean there were just multiple things related to church and friendship where I was like, oh, well that does like, that’s fine to communicate with people on the Sabbath. And yet anyway, it’s hard to figure out.
Amy Julia (17m 33s):
So I’m curious to hear from you like, and you write about this for sure. But like w where have you landed? What does a practice of Sabbath look like for you?
Kate (17m 43s):
Yeah, so, so first of all, like really appreciate all those comments. And I really appreciate the example of like a friend calling you for ride to church. Like that’s really, you know, that really like hits, hits, hits, where it hurts or something, the point about youth sports. It was interesting as I was finishing up the manuscript, my editor said, can you please add something about youth sport, youth sports? Because like, that is, what’s really like, you know, driving families crazy. I don’t know. I don’t know if it’s driving families crazy, but there is this feeling of like family worship and FA you know, is being eroded by youth sports. So I think that’s an interesting sort of sub angle on all this. I mean, I think where I’ve landed, I will be, I’m happy.
Kate (18m 25s):
I’m, I’m, it’s sad, but it took an entire researching and writing an entire book for me to really get a lot of this straight in my head. And I do, I am joyful to share with you that I do have a committed weekly Sabbath practice. And, you know, I did before I started the book, but sometimes it felt a little anemic and, and now it feels really robust and really like solid and sort of soulful. So, so I, I, I just hold that out because it is possible and I work full time and have a family and do volunteer stuff and go to church. So, so I’ll tell you two things that have helped me. One is, and I have in the back of the book of quick-start guide.
Kate (19m 5s):
And so one of the things in there is to say, start by really reflecting on what your work is at this season and time of your life, because all of our work is different. You know, part of why resting from your phone is that your phone is part of your work, right? You’re a writer, you’re a public speaker, you know, you’re a presence on social media. And so that is part of your work. And so to rest from that is part of Sabbath keeping. So if you define what your work is, if you are a full-time parent, or if you’re a grad student, or if you’re retired or if you’re unemployed, or if you are working full time or, you know, whatever your stage of life there’s going to be work, you’re, you know, what is your work right now?
Kate (19m 50s):
And then think about abstaining from that. You know, so if you are a gardener, like if you’re a, if you do landscape design, then w you know, working in the garden is probably part of your work, but I don’t ever work in the, with my hands during the week, or, you know, in the dirt during the week. So for me, you know, a lot of people were like, well, what if I want to garden? Or what if I want to cook? It’s like, well, gardening, isn’t part of your work. Then I think it’s, you know, and first of all, also like, you know, Jesus is not about legalism. So as Christians, we cannot be legalistic about this, and that’s the Dean, you know, that’s, and I think that the danger and the damps of any spiritual practice is how do you not turn it into something that’s, you know, full of sheds and sort of legalistic and makes you tight and all that stuff.
Kate (20m 35s):
And at the same time is a discipline, you know, so does have some hard edges that make you uncomfortable and maybe mean disappointing other people or stretching yourself. And again, what I find is in those moments where, you know, there’s a, there’s an opportunity missed, or, you know, oh, if only I could get on my phone to just do that one thing, it’s like, what happens instead? You know, how do I connect to God? How do I connect to my family? How do I connect to myself in ways I wouldn’t have? So I think, I think recognizing that it is a discipline and that we can’t be legalistic in our spiritual disciplines, which is,
Amy Julia (21m 11s):
I love that dichotomy. Like, I think that’s really helpful to name both of those things. And I’m just thinking about one place where you write about how the final couple of hours of Sabbath are often really uncomfortable for you. And that that’s actually on the one hand who cares if it’s 22 hours or 24 hours, like you’re not keeping the clock in that way. And yet, on the other hand, what is it about those two hours that if you actually commit to them as part of a Sabbath, keeping practice will actually over time, do more and more again, of the centering of God instead of self, which ultimately is like such a freedom to us, right? Like it’s not, that’s not about like being, I don’t know, subservient or like denigrating ourselves.
Amy Julia (21m 54s):
Like it is humid, not humiliating, humbling, and yet, in a way that’s like freeing at the same time to your point about, we don’t have to save the world. But I also think there’s just a practice of waiting. That is really, again, our time and place. Our moment makes it really hard to wait for anything and to have a discipline that involves waiting. W you know, whether it’s waiting to check the phone or waiting to start the dishwasher or waiting to go shopping or waiting to whatever it is. I do think there’s a real goodness to that in terms of just resetting our whole orientation to time and place and desire all of those things.
Amy Julia (22m 38s):
So there’s like so much goodness that can come out of that. And I mean, one thing I’ve found is Peter and I have started my husband and I have started saying like, okay, I, you hold my phone. Like, literally I’m like at eight o’clock on Sunday morning, you can check my phone because you can tell whether the friend has asked for the ride to church or not, but I don’t need to see it all day long. So, and then one more time in the afternoon, again, if there’s like a neighbor, who’s like, Hey, dah, dah, dah, dah. You know, so that’s, that’s what we are attempting is the like, you know, help each other. It took us awhile.
Kate (23m 16s):
Oh man. No, I mean, that’s brilliant. I mean, that’s, so that would be my, first of all, I love that. And I’m going to steal it if you don’t mind. But I mean, because you’re right, like it’s this tension and people push back on me all the time. Like, well, what if my mom texts me? And, you know, part of it’s like, well, I mean, my mom just called me as that we’re in the middle of this interview. So some of that, like, it’s happy to hold a boundary, you know, but then some of it’s like, well, what if somebody really does need me? So what, first of all, we have a law, we have a shocking landlord. Yeah. So, you know, if somebody really needs you, that’s one option, but I like your work around because you know, the other thing is, I don’t know about you, but I get into a lot of, like, I don’t know, tension with my husband because he feels like I’m on my phone too much.
Kate (23m 58s):
And I feel like he’s on his phone too much. And so in some ways it’s like, I dunno, so that swapping is both practical and there’s a sweetness to it. So I really liked that. You know, I was also gonna say that the practical solution that we, that I have found after much, much trial and error is actually the, I observed the Sabbath on a Saturday, which I feel a little bit queasy about. Cause I know there’s complicated theologies and you know, disagreements about what day is the Sabbath. And, and first of all, I think some of that again is legalistic and you can sort of put that down. But for me, what has been really meaningful is thinking about the meaning and the theology of holy Saturday.
Kate (24m 41s):
And, you know, we just came out of Easter and thinking about, you know, we’d spent a lot of time thinking about what happens on good Friday, a lot of times thinking about what happens on Easter Sunday and what happens in between on holy Saturday, you know, Jesus, I mean, it was the Sabbath, the women didn’t go, you know, they paused on preparing him with the oils and, you know, the funeral oils, et cetera, because it was the Sabbath. And so, and you know, that we don’t know a lot about what Jesus did that day, but we know a little bit. And it’s just, I think, I think holy Saturday is a, is a really interesting moment in the liturgical year that we don’t spend enough time on. And so I observe my Sabbath on Saturdays and, and then I think of every Sunday, you know, as a little Easter, you know, which is what we’re told to do.
Kate (25m 29s):
Like every Sunday, I’m sorry, I might’ve said Saturday, but every Sunday I met every Sunday. I treat as a little Easter, you know, where we’re celebrating the resurrection of the Lord. And, and so, so to me, it’s like both, you know, and that also feels good because when I go to church, you know, and this is something I also talk about, as many of us experienced that there’s work, obviously involved in church, we’re involved in committees, et cetera. And I also, what I really like about this new cadence we have is resting on Saturdays, like really resting, you know, vegging out and then on Sundays going to church, celebrating an Easter, Easter and Easter, and then having an Easter mindset and then entering the workweek back rather than just like, okay, back to the grind, starting my work week as a part of a resurrected people, you know?
Kate (26m 19s):
And so then how does that change the tenor of our work in the days ahead, you know, in our church, it’s like you end the church service with like being sent forth in prayer to love and serve the world. And so what a beautiful sort of book end to arrest practice, you know, a worship service and then being sent forth and then reentering the work of war, the world of work. And, and the other thing, I’ll just say it again. And then I’ll pause is like the other aha for me, as I was working on this book was our work is good. You know, we in, in, in Genesis and the garden of Eden work, predate, predated, so to speak the fall.
Kate (27m 0s):
And so, you know, so, so therefore like our work is good and so we can also celebrate our work. And, and again, how do we enter back into our workweeks with, with minds of, of calm and joy and peace and centeredness, you know,
Amy Julia (27m 15s):
Well, and I think that’s where I don’t remember if this was in your book or elsewhere, but the idea that on the, going back to that Genesis story on the sixth day of God’s work, humans were created. The first thing they were told to do is take a day of rest and presumably the next day was to start working. And so the rest came first and the work came out of that place of rest. And that, I think also goes back to what you were saying, where it’s like, in what way can this Sabbath practice of both the rest and the celebration be what is so central to our way of understanding time that we’re able to move from that into work, not seeing work as a grind, but actually as a sense of calling.
Amy Julia (28m 1s):
And I think you do a good job of saying, I’m not talking about quote unquote life work balance because there was work involved. And the way we talk about that as a culture is as if there’s no work involved in having a household, whether or not you have children, there’s laundry to do. And like there there’s so much tending all the time, so a to be given a day of rest from that, but then B to see that as a part of the meaningful ordering of our lives, I think is really important. So I, I, yeah, I just resonate with that sense of seeing Sabbath, not just as like arrest from what has just happened, but a preparation for what’s about to happen and being able to move into our work also with that perspective of God being at the center, this coming out of a place of rest and celebration and recognizing that most of our work, whether that’s in the office or in the home is actually work.
Amy Julia (28m 58s):
And that’s a good thing, but it also can be called work.
Kate (29m 2s):
Yeah. And I also, you know, I’ll just say like, what I’m so happy about is that I finally aligned with my daughter on a Sabbath schedule because, you know, as you said about soccer, like if you’re trying to do Sabbath and your kids are kicking and screaming and not, and like, you’re not, you can’t figure it out as a family. That also just, I mean, that’s what happened to me for a long time. And finally, and again, when I was trying to get my daughter to do Sabbath on Sundays, she would just bulk because what she wanted to do naturally was rest on Saturday after her full work school week and then sort of get back to it on Sunday afternoon. And so now, now, like she delights and Sabbath, it’s so sweet.
Kate (29m 43s):
Like she says, you know, she reminds me, she holds me accountable, which is the, that’s the thing I always wanted was a sense of community. And now I have that, you know, in small ways with a couple of people and it’s, and that makes all the difference. So that’s the other thing I recommend to people is have a Sabbath buddy. I mean, in this case, I’ve mentioned my daughter, but I also literally have a Sabbath buddy and adult and that’s, and she’s been a great source of sort of accountability and problem solving and support and encouragement. And, you know, that’s, that’s also, evidence-based peer support is, you know, an evidence-based
Amy Julia (30m 18s):
Evidence-based practice. I love that. And I agree. I think that is something that we have finding a rhythm as a family. And obviously if you are someone who’s not living in a household and the same way, there’s still that need for one of the things I think that is a part of our rest is solitude, but another part is community and, and making space for both of those things. I do want to turn our conversation in the direction of healing, which I know we’ve mentioned wanting to talk about partially because it comes up in your book. And also because I’m curious to hear what you have to say about what you’ve been reading in my book, but for me, I’m curious about the relationship between rest and healing.
Amy Julia (30m 60s):
You’ve already mentioned just the kind of evidence again, that biologically speaking rest is crucial to healing. I just think about anytime someone has surgery, like it’s not, yes, when we’re sick, we need a lot more rest, but even just something that has happened in a, not in an illness way, but like broken bone or tearing your ACL or whatever the repair that your body needs to do requires rest. And I just think about the way that must be true in our emotional and spiritual lives as well. That there’s just a sense of rest being a place or a space of healing. So I’d love to hear your thoughts on that in general, and also whether you’ve experienced any sense of healing as a result of like a more deliberate Sabbath practice.
Kate (31m 44s):
Yeah. So, so I really am grateful for your book To Be Made Well, which I’m reading right now, as I mentioned, because I think it was really reading your book was really a wake up call to me for some of the ways that I haven’t paid enough attention to healing and the connections between healing and rest and knowing that you and I were going to have this conversation. I felt sort of like, I mean, I’m glad that you feel like I touched, I just felt like, oh my gosh, I didn’t talk like touch on that topic and upper right enough about that topic, or think enough about that topic. And it’s so interesting because I just recently got sick and I feel like you had a similar anecdote in your book, but I’m not quite remembering, which is, so I went to the doctor like thinking something might be seriously wrong and all ready to like go to the ER or get them tests or, you know, take the medicine or do the intervention.
Kate (32m 38s):
And she’s like, I think you just have a virus and you just need to rest. And I started like bawling and the doctor’s office, like, because I’m like, you know, the feeling I had was like, that’s the one thing I can’t do. I can run around, but I can’t rest
Amy Julia (32m 54s):
Tell me what tests I need to take. Give me a list of produce.
Kate (32m 58s):
This is something to do, give me something to do and I’ll do it. But like you just because the thing is, if you tell me to rest, then what I have to do is tell people that I’m not available. Like I’ve got to tell people I can’t do stuff. And honestly, I mean, this was the worst part about it is I had to go into my, I mean, it’s like this whole crazy, this is probably too much in the details, but I had to cancel stuff. And so then I had to go into my email to cancel stuff. But when I went into my email, I realized that there was a fire that had popped up in my work while I was at the doctor’s office. So I’m getting on my email to cancel stuff because I’m legitimately sick. And my doctor told me I had to rest.
Kate (33m 38s):
And instead of just simply, you know, canceling meetings for the next day, I suddenly was dealing with a crisis. And just the there’s the painful, like irony of that. And so, you know, and the question I got, I gave a church, I gave a talk at church to a church the other day, a church group, and like a woman raised her hand and said like, I’m totally with you on Sabbath. What you’re saying makes sense. Like, tell me about the other six days. Like, what do I do to create balance and like equanimity? And I’m like, good question. You know, like I’m still struggling with that. And, you know, and one of the answers I give, which is absolutely true. And I totally like stand by this one a thousand percent is I think that in our daily lives, prayer has to be the anchoring, you know, and that is, I have a daily prayer practice.
Kate (34m 32s):
I have a chapter about that in reclaiming rest. And I do feel like I get a sense of rest and centeredness and clarity and reconnecting with God’s will when I pray. So that’s absolutely true. And I do tend to work in a maniacal pace and have, you know, and just sort of a multitasking life and the cognitive load of a multitasking life is intense. So I think your book really helped me is helping me think about that more deeply and, and really, you know, and, and that’s also, again, another way your book has helped me be more mindful of my own like biases or, or I don’t know what the right word is, shortcomings in this area.
Kate (35m 17s):
So I’m giving these talks on burnout, as I mentioned. So I’m now, again, linking this theme of rest to the problem of burnout. And I’ll just say briefly, you may know that, or I put said this in my book, the world health organization classified burnout in 2019 as an occupational phenomenon for the first time. So it’s really burnout as a problem. It’s getting a lot more attention, you know, as a, there’s a lot more focus on it, you know, organizations around the world and every sector are waking up to the fact that our global workforce in many sectors is, is burnout. So that’s good. And when I give talks about it and review the evidence on it, I skim over the health part. You know, I sort of treat it like, like, you know, kind of like it did in this podcast.
Kate (36m 0s):
Like, well, obviously breast is good for your health. Like, let’s move on to the ways. Rest is like connected to social justice and let’s move on to the ways that rest is connected to economic justice. And I sort of treat healing and health as like a no-brainer, but like, but, but then, like, I think what happens as a result is I treat it like I did them, the doctors off was just like, oh, and then my friend texted me and she’s like, you know, you can’t actually heal unless you actually rest, like, you can’t just talk about resting or right about resting or, you know, so then I went home and I mean, you’ll appreciate this. Like I took a picture of myself resting and put on Instagram. It’s like, ridiculous. You know? So, so again, I think your book helped me, has helping me really be more mindful of the connections between rest and healing.
Kate (36m 48s):
And I’m grateful for that. So I’d be curious, like, you know, I’m curious what you think about that. And, you know, you’re like, I don’t think I’m, I didn’t hear like Sabbath keeping as a theme in your book per se, but yeah. How do the canals play out for you?
Amy Julia (37m 5s):
I’ve thought about some sort of like supplemental something, whether it’s like a Bible study or a teaching series on video or something in terms of like practicing healing. And I think rest would be one of those things because my, and, and the stories I would pick would be some of the healings that Jesus insists on doing on the Sabbath. They’re so interesting
Kate (37m 26s):
Amy Julia (37m 27s):
He never heals someone on a Sabbath who is in a dire situation. Like in some ways he chooses people like there’s a woman who’s bent over and a man with a withered hand, they were that way yesterday. There’ll be that way tomorrow. And the Pharisees are not at least theoretically, so upset about like, it’s not as though they think it’s bad for the man with the withered hand, to be able to use his hand again, they think that could have waited until tomorrow and you don’t do work that can wait until tomorrow on the Sabbath. And Jesus says, this absolutely belongs right now, helping other people like caring and having compassion, essentially healing belongs on the Sabbath is what I read him as saying there.
Amy Julia (38m 11s):
And so it’s just made me wonder that relationship between healing and rest and that like, no, none of these things are like absolutely wed together in the mind of God. And so I want to pay attention to that. So that’s where my mind has gone. And it’s true for many other practices that like, I think there are lots of healing practices, rest being one of them, generosity, hospitality, touch, like physical touch. We see that in the way that Jesus connects with people. So I’ve thought about, yeah. Either writing or doing some teaching on, on those topics in this vein. But I do think that sense of rest as again, going back to what you, but I don’t have time to rest, right?
Amy Julia (38m 56s):
Like give me a pill, give me a like set of things I’m supposed to do, as opposed to really recognizing that both biologically and spiritually, there’s actually something that happens. I, I think about this is in Psalm 23, which is, I’m sure familiar to many people, God makes me lie down in green pastures. Like that comes before God leads me beside the still waters. God leads me in paths of righteousness. It’s like, again, it’s rest is first. And then this sense of like the Stillwater’s like, okay, here’s kind of some spiritual, here’s what you’re supposed to do. And then he leads me in paths of righteousness. Like there’s the social justice, right? Like that it needs to come out of that place of rest.
Amy Julia (39m 39s):
That is meant to be a gift it’s meant to be back to what you were saying. Like, God has got an, I am not and how freeing that is, but I get to be a part of it. Like I get to be a part of the loving work of God in the world. It’s not a passive <inaudible>, but it’s also not this like yeah. Savior complex and just work until you do burn out because it’s all on your shoulders. So anyway, those are just some of my musings on rest on the Sabbath and Healing.
Kate (40m 6s):
That’s great. Well, I would really, I mean, I love that and I love, you know, because frankly I, I haven’t ever admitted this to anybody, but sort of Jesus’s teachings, Jesus’s healings on the Sabbath are confusing to me. And your explanation you just gave really makes a lot of sense. So I just want to lift that up as I think that would be a great place for teaching and a great, I mean, the way you just explained it makes total sense. So thank you for that.
Amy Julia (40m 33s):
Yeah. I’d also love to talk about the relationship though, between healing and in a communal sense. So like communal healing and Sabbath rest, because one of the things that you do write about is like, how does social justice like this sense of practicing Sabbath enabling change and what I would call healing in the public sphere? Like, can you just talk about the relationship that you’ve found between Sabbath and social justice? And, and again, if you want to put that in terms of healing or not like, that’s how I’ve kind of been thinking about it, but I’d love to just hear you talk about that a little bit.
Kate (41m 9s):
Yeah. Well, it’s a big topic for me, because again, I was raised, I was raised by a, a humanist social justice mom. And so, so this idea, you know, really understanding a Christian sensibility around social justice has been a really powerful and deep and deepening journey for me. And I just, I just gave a talk this week. I don’t know how you would feel about me doing a little reading from the book. Okay. Because I think that this, so this is so one of the things that I, that I, that I write about is that I tried in addition to a weekly Sabbath that I tried this practice of taking monthly Sabbath retreats.
Kate (41m 59s):
And so one of them, one of the retreats that I did was when I was in Nigeria for work. And so typically, you know, I would just try to find a weekend, a 36 hour period for a Sabbath retreat. And I was traveling to Nigeria for work. And there was security risks while I was there. And so the, they told me when I got there not to leave my hotel on the weekend, which, you know, meant I was sort of secluded. And so, so, so, so, you know, I was really reflecting on my own white privilege while I was in Nigeria. And so maybe I’ll just, is it okay if I read a passage? Okay. All right. So I’ll just read from here. So this is on page 67. Typically when I travel for work and have a weekend off, I use the time for sightseeing, but in a Buddha, I decided not to venture out.
Kate (42m 45s):
I felt an obligation to my word, feeling back at home to be cautious. And since I hadn’t yet taken a Sabbath retreat that month, I decided to embrace the downtime. It was an odd sensation. Partly I felt claustrophobic and embarrassed about my self-imposed house arrest, but mostly I was painfully aware of my immense privilege, right outside the hotel. There were armed guards who maintained a secure perimeter for the hotel. Meanwhile, I ate spaghetti and drink pool by the beer, by the pool, the protection, my wealth and nationality afforded me on that weekend. Wasn’t the only privilege I spent time reflecting on the same weekend. I was in Nigeria, a group from my church back in chapel hill, North Carolina was making a pilgrimage to Montgomery, Alabama to visit the national Memorial for peace and justice.
Kate (43m 26s):
The lynching museum Memorial there, which opened to the public in 2018 commemorates, the more than 4,000 black people who were murdered by white mobs, starting in the late 18 hundreds to the mid 19 hundreds. I was more than 5,000 miles away, but my heart and mind were with my friends who were on their way to Montgomery by bus, between us was the Atlantic ocean where the transatlantic slave trade transported an estimated 12 million Africans to the Americas between the 16th and 19th centuries. The legacy of the slave trade on the demographic, economic, political and social structures of Africa were devastating. It has made it. Ms. Made many countries, including Nigeria vulnerable to later European canalization and continues to shape the trajectory of the region.
Kate (44m 7s):
As the descendants of slave holders. I am the direct beneficiaries of generations of wealth that resulted from my ancestors, inflicting unspeakable violence on other humans, stealing their labor, tearing their families apart and denying them their most basic rights and dignities as Mary Elliott and Jasmine Hughes wrote in the New York times 16, 19 project from one century to the next families, profited from enslaved people, their wealth pay passing from generation to generation. The legacy of class and race and class paste privilege is part of what allowed me to be in Abuja that weekend during the Jim Crow era, while African-Americans were routinely denied opportunities for economic advancement and terrorized by lynchings across the country. My great, great grandfather was making a career for himself.
Kate (44m 49s):
So the precursor to Exxon mobile in 19 55, 1 of ExxonMobil’s subsidiaries began commercial operations in Nigeria today. The company is one of the country’s largest oil producers. The stock options, my grandfather great-grandfather earned were passed down to my grandfather and father and they helped pay for my college. Tuition has such I embody much of the complexity and hypocrisy of global development work, given them my own family’s complicity in white supremacy and white privilege is in part what allowed to be, to be in Sub-Sahara Subsaharan Africa on that trip at its core. My work in Nigeria was an attempt to help reverse the impact of centuries of violence and injustice.
Kate (45m 29s):
Given this, what does it mean? What did it mean to take my Sabbath retreats sequestered in an expensive hotel behind walls lined with barbed wire and with armed men, standing guard was Resting in this way. And in this context, an act of profound hypocrisy, and self-indulgence even if I was trying to make a positive difference through my public health work, I was undeniably part of a system that was built on the worst abuses of humans and continues to be fueled by the exploitation of people in our planet. A friend of mine at church once told me she thinks of sin as a virus. There is no cell in our bodies that is not effected given this, is there any way to escape? It was my time of rest and Abuja doing anything to increase Shalom in my heart or in the world.
Amy Julia (46m 14s):
And so where do you land in asking yourself that question? Like the, this relationship? Again, I write in my book a fair amount about Shalom as well, right? This idea of there being right relationship between people, between us and God, between with our, you know, within ourselves and with creation. And I do think that you’re writing about rest as a way to de-center ourselves and recognize God’s sovereignty God’s position at the center and God as the one who’s essentially like, we’re not the Messiah, but we do report to him, right?
Amy Julia (46m 55s):
Like, there’s this like, Send
Kate (46m 58s):
Amy Julia (46m 59s):
You know, so, so again, I just want to emphasize, like we have work to do, but it is a work that comes out of the work that God is ultimately responsible for and doing. But I do think there is a place of that relentless pursuit of working even on behalf of other people can be a way of centering ourselves and the place of, of rest and Sabbath can be a way of like, even just you having that time to reflect on like, wait a, who am I? And what is happening here? And, and how did I get here? And, and even, you know, just that passage you read on some level came out of slowing down and asking the question of what am I doing, hold up here on a Sabbath retreat.
Kate (47m 44s):
Right. I mean, I think, you know, And I right after, so I think it’s a great question. And I think you’re right. Sort of, I mean, even just pausing and having the chance for, for self-reflection. I mean, when I was in Nigeria, I listened to a sermon by Reverend Howard, John Wesley. And he said in that sermon, you know, whatever we can’t restaurant, we are slaves to. And, you know, so whether it’s capitalism or like our own neurotic minds or, you know, our complicity in unequitable structures, if we’ve just like constantly on the hamster wheel of be engaged, if we’re not resting from them, we’re slaves to them.
Kate (48m 27s):
I think that’s a really powerful takeaway. And so, you know, again, perhaps I even think like pausing, you know, again, to, to, I haven’t really, I hadn’t really thought of it this way, but so you, you tell me what you think, like, again, as a white American thinking about the ways that I’m complicit in violent white supremacy instead of these systems of inequity, like again, if I don’t pause myself truly pause and just keep sort of enacting that, I mean, how do, how would you break? How can we break the cycle? I guess if we don’t, if we don’t have sacred pause, you know?
Kate (49m 8s):
So, I mean, I certainly don’t have the answers in that regard, but I do think that Sabbath is a call to return.
Amy Julia (49m 17s):
Well, and I do think that sense of you’ve already mentioned this, but the humility that comes with that is a part of not only under, I mean, when we understand our own place, that helps us to understand both that sense of kind of common humanity and the dignity and value of all the other people, right? Like, and our role, as far as listening and waiting for like, what is my what’s mine to do here, but also it doesn’t all depend on me and there’s some beautiful, I think, listening and love that can come out of just that posture alone. So yeah, I think there, there are lots of things
Kate (49m 55s):
And I think you’re right, that the sort of connections with pot, with sake with, with, you know, pausing and resting and then discern like discerning where God is calling us to serve. Because, you know, I’m, I’m sure you experienced this in your life too. If like we’re just compulsively, reacting and doing stuff and think doing what we think is the right without asking Jesus, where do you want me right now? Where do you want me to serve? Where do you want me to show up? You know, so that it’s God driven and God led, like, how can you ask that question and listen for the answer. If you’re not in prayer, pausing and rest, you know, there’s no way. So that’s the tool that we have to return to God and to listen for God’s word in our, the still small voice, you know?
Amy Julia (50m 42s):
Yeah. That’s why there’s a, there’s a verse in Isaiah in returning and rest is your salvation and quietness and trust is your strength. And then the next part of the verses, but you would have none of it. I always am like, I love it. It’s so beautiful. And then it’s like, but you would have none of it, but that’s also so true, right? That like the invitation is out there and it’s this beautiful, poetic, quietness, trust, repentance, rest, returning, rest, whatever. But we like strive on, I mean, and again, not all of us, not all the time. And I am grateful that we have a God who does offer that invitation again and again, to come back and to rest
Kate (51m 21s):
Well. And what I like to say, you know, your writing has really, maybe I can pivot the topic slightly, but I think it’s related. I mean, you’re writing in your book to made well and elsewhere. I know you had an op-ed in the New York times fellows recently. Congratulations on that. And thank you for that. You know, really, as you talk about your daughter, penny and her disabilities and your family’s journey with that, I think something I really got from you that was a gift was, you know, the way that we turn all of our human bodies or try to into sort of like how productive we can be, you know, our value comes from a productivity and, you know, and that, if that’s the way, if that’s how we evaluate human worth in our ability to like contribute to the GDP, you know, that’s not a vision of a beloved community.
Kate (52m 16s):
Right? And so your writing on that really made me realize the connections between the disability rights movement that you write so beautifully about and the Sabbath movement, you know, the rest movement. Because again, I think the, and I don’t know if it’s a movement, but the Sabbath message is, you know, the Sabbath messages, we’re more, we’re more, we’re worth more than our work, you know, we’re worth more than just our productivity. We’re worth more just because we’re beloved child of God. So I don’t know. I don’t know if I got, if you would agree with what I said and I, but again, just want to thank you for, for some of the ways that you’ve helped me make those connections.
Amy Julia (52m 53s):
Oh yeah, absolutely. I think this is something that comes up in To Be Made Well, at least in some way, but I remember pretty early on in Penny’s life, recognizing that even as a Christian, so much of my sense of self came out of my doing, whether it was like doing good things for Jesus or to, you know, in your world, like pre Christianity, like doing good things out of secular humanism, or even if it’s not doing quote unquote good things, but like getting good grades, getting the right job, like whatever it is, like our doing tells us who we are and what I think the message of certainly of Christianity, but also of the Sabbath is like, no, no, no. Who you are like receiving who you are from God in terms of a beloved creature that tells you what to do.
Amy Julia (53m 39s):
Like it’s the being that leads to the doing, not the doing that leads to the being, but we really do get that confused. And so it really messes with us.
Kate (53m 49s):
And, and the thing is what I really like about your book too. It’s like, you like me seem to forget over and over again. Oh yes.
Amy Julia (53m 55s):
Kate (53m 56s):
I forgot over and over again. And so that’s also what I love about the Sabbath is because it’s a weekly, you know, so like we, we forget, we fall off the wagon we get back on, you know? And so that’s why, again, I think having a commitment as a church to a cadence of rest, you know, that is not just like once in a while, when you do the annual prayer retreat, you know, but that is a commitment and a discipline to a weekly cadence of rest because then we all forget and we all revert just, as you said to thinking that our worth comes from our, our doing and the Sabbath for me, at least my helps me reorient. And remember,
Amy Julia (54m 37s):
I really love that. I love that reminder that this is so repetitive and we really need so beautiful.
Kate (54m 46s):
Yeah. Right. Like we write these books and then we’re just like, forget immediately thereafter. So, you know, so I, I need the help to keep remembering. So
Amy Julia (54m 58s):
Yeah, amen to that. Well, I think that might actually be a good place for us to land as far as just that sense of there’s a rhythm that we are invited into and we get a chance to screw it up and try again, 52 times every year, you know, all over and over and over again. It’s beautiful. Thank you for your time. And just for being willing to share with us your thoughts on all of this, I’ve really loved having you
Kate (55m 24s):
Well, thank you. And thank you for your, for your writing about healing and, and for helping me make the connections between holy rest and holy healing. So I’m grateful, I’m grateful for this time and grateful for your, for your work, for your words in the world to thank you.
Amy Julia (55m 40s):
Thanks as always for listening to this episode of Love Is Stronger Than Fear. I really loved reclaiming rest Kate’s book, and that was not just for the wisdom and encouragement that it held, but it also was just really well written. So I liked that a lot in a book, you got a sense of that enthusiasm from this conversation, and you can find a link to Kate’s book and where to just connect with her in the show notes. I will also remind you that I would love for you to check out the audio book version of, To Be Made. Well, my recent book. And I’d also just appreciate it. If you have the minute, a minute to share this episode and to share the news of the audio book with other people who, you know, might benefit from these conversations, I will end by giving thanks for Jake Hansen, my podcast editor and Amber Beery, my social media coordinator.
Amy Julia (56m 36s):
This would not happen without them. I’m so grateful. I’m also thankful for you, the listener, and as you go into your day to day, I hope you will carry with you. The peace that comes from believing that Love Is Stronger Than Fear.
Learn more with Amy Julia:
- To Be Made Well: An Invitation to Wholeness, Healing, and Hope
- S5 E3 | The Spaciousness of Limits with Ashley Hales
- Fasting from Busyness (Waiting for God)
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