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In the human “walking”, that arouses the inner experience that I call “human spirituality”, precisely because it is human walking, there is also rest as a necessary element: we are not machines that can proceed with linear regularity. Rather, we proceed by different types of rhythms, that are not very regular. This basic need for rest is similar to the basic need for the Sunday rest, with its spirituality, in the Christian context. Through the practice of rest we can live the experience of the fêting, a spirituality that moves away from care, an act of refreshing mind and body.

In the perspective of walking considered as research, rest takes the function of cultivating the knowledge that, actually, the culmination, the end to be attained is walking itself. It does not follow from this that, since there is nothing new to discover, walking is useless: walking is not always the same walking, but it recreates and renews itself through its realizing itself.

Walking as a goal in itself can be compared to the relationship between the seed and the plant: there is great difference between the seed and the plant, but it is also true that in some ways there is already in the seed everything that the plant is going to be, although in germ, in embryo, in a manner that is not possible to experience entirely as if it was already a plant. In this sense walking as a purpose could be compared to the Christian theology of the already and not yet.

If, in the progress of walking, what is most experienced is not having found yet, we could even say the anguish, the longing for the search, in rest we stress rather all the already existing matter of the goal, all the already enjoyable stuff of it. Those who walk are already in the destination and, therefore, they have already everything, they are already in everything and therefore it is worth it to pause and enjoy and experiment in peace what has been already achieved, the degree of evolution reached in our own walk. Without rest, the walking would be reduced just to a search without ever living, although, even in searching, an experience of the already reached is still possible.

We could also observe, in this scheme, some internal versions of walking, some nice smaller walking experiences that we can live during the rest: I would compare them to the moments when we enjoy playing with the food in our dish and making drawings with a spoon on the sauce. I would compare the interweaving of large and small rests, large and small sub-paths, to our heartbeat: there is the pumping towards the outside, the receiving towards the inside and there is also, every time, a moment of stop, when our heart rests, the same way how acoustic or sea waves are crossed by minor waves.

On the other hand, it is in relation to this human approach that in many contexts I prefer the term “walking” or “growing” to the more abstract and philosophical “becoming”. In this perspective, I also find meaningful, as an image rich of synthesis about the rest, that of the group festive meal. My reference to the Christian Sunday Easter is pretty obvious.

Hello everybody. This video is connected to the lesson “Spirituality of rest”.

What can we notice about rest?

We can find that rest is connected essentially with rhythm, that is, whenever we do something, we need some rest. We can consider, for example, our breathing. Even our heart, in its beating, has a tiny moment of rest. So, our life is made this way, because we are humans, so we are structured with rhythms. We can find an attention to these rhythms in the world, of course, in the universe, like the rhythm of seasons, of days. Particularly religions have given attention to this element of our life, so we can find in religion this spirituality of rhythm of life.

Specifically, in the Christian tradition, there is this attention to the week, so, every seven days we have, according to the Old Testament, the day of rest. We can find the story in the creation of the world in seven days.

This recurring of events includes not only days, weeks, seasons, but also celebrations, feasts. In this context we can find celebrations either of religious events, like Easter, or Christmas, or events of the universe, like the starting of the seasons.

Now, there would be a difficulty about this, that is, in this repetition of moments of rest, when we see that, over the years, we carry on by repeating over and over the same events, the same feasts, or the same activities, along the days, weeks, months, we might wonder: where is progress? Where is growth? Is our life, just like a wheel, turning round and round and repeating all the time the same things? About this difficulty, a kind of geometrical solution has been thought, which is the idea of combining the returning, the repetition, with some kind of linear progress. How can we combine these two things? In abstract I said geometrical, mathematical way, the idea is that of the spiral, of, we can say, something like a screw, which is: there is a movement of revolving all the same, but in a spiral we can find a combination, which is, the revolving, at the same time moves towards a direction, so, if you see this revolving, but it can move this way and revolves, but goes in a third direction. So the same way as this is possible in geometry, obviously it is possible in life. It’s not difficult to find this correspondence, this similarity, which is, for example, school: we have different years, different lessons, but, over time, we become more educated and, at the end, we can get a diploma, a PHD, a doctorate. So, it’s visible that it’s possible to combine these two things, repetition and growth through the repetition.

Another note that I would like to add is that a feature of repetition is that it produces in us a feeling of familiarity. This is, maybe we can think one reason, one important reason, why we need or we like some kind of repetition, that is, when I see that things repeat, I feel them more comfortable, more familiar, like I feel at home, because I find, I meet things that I already know. So, I know how to move in that context. This kind of sweetness can be found in all events and we can think also of justice. A connection: in another post of the course I have said that: why do we like, why do we want justice? I think that this is one fundamental reason why we like and we want justice: because justice appears to us like something comfortable: if things are balanced, if what is due is done, what is unjust is avoided or compensated, this creates a sort of familiarity, a sort of comfort, that is very similar to the comfort that we gain from repetition, like thinking: oh, I know this, I feel at home, I like this.

As a conclusion, I would say that our life, of course, needs all of these things. Especially they make possible renewal, growth and, at the same time, it makes it human. This is actually spirituality, that is, we put together the need to grow, to progress, to see some change in our life, but in a human way, so that we are able to find in it also a place for sweetness, for comfort, for familiarity, for a friendship, so that we can say: this nourishes my life, so that, in my spiritual life, I can find something that is like food for my soul, so that I want to cultivate it, I look for it, because it gives me life.

That’s it. These are some notes now about spirituality of rest. As usual, you can have a look at the website Spiritual Study. I invite you to join the discussion forum, so you can express yourself. I would even like to make video meetings or video lessons, a video course. Just let me know, in any way how you can contact me: either by the website or the forum or whatever it is, so that we can build a good spirituality all over the world, across our lives and with our experiences.

See you next time