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On Rest and Resilience

This week has been hellish for many, if not most, Americans. As a nation, we’ve experienced plenty of heartache and headaches together, but that doesn’t mean that it hurts any less when new tragedies occur.

This isn’t exclusive to America, either. In fact, a large part of the world experiences what America has experienced this week — every single day. That puts things in perspective (or should), but that doesn’t mean the pain we experience is any less painful. We need time to grieve. We need to cry. And after a week like the one we’ve had, we need rest.

Certain experiences in life are forever pressed into our memories. I will always remember where I was on April 15, 2013: eating lunch in the on-campus dining hall at Seattle Pacific, seeing the news of an explosion in Boston begin to trickle in on Twitter. In a way, I felt like I was there, but I was 3000 miles away. I was shocked. I couldn’t eat any more. I couldn’t continue conversation with my friends. I felt this tingling, numbness behind my ears and around my eyes. My mind immediately went to my brother and his wife, who both moved to Boston last year. I frantically stumbled out of the dining hall and contacted my sister-in-law; they were both fine. Still, I was shaken up. I visited Boston twice last year, and absolutely fell in love with the city. I even considered attending college at one of the excellent schools in the area. The people of Boston are nothing short of wonderful. They have a unique determination about them, but they never lose sight of who they are — Bostonians.

And the more the news began pouring in, the heavier it became. A city I loved was wounded. A part of America was wounded. As Drew Hoolhorst put it,

“What I do know is that what’s going on is horrific. It’s scary, it’s humbling, and it makes America seem like a teeny tiny place. Boston isn’t a city anymore, It’s just America.”

Times like these are tough for all of us. Nations of people are nothing more than large communities, and it often takes happenings of either joy or sorrow to make us realize the power of community. We are all Bostonians this week. Even as I write this, one of the bombing suspects is still on the run. This isn’t over yet, and that is a scary feeling.

On top of the events in Boston, the town of West, Texas, was faced with disaster (albeit one with much less media coverage). Dozens of injuries, multiple deaths. We all feel the loss; we are all Texans this week. But how does a nation cope during a time like this, clouded with such sadness and loss? There’s no easy answer. As human beings, there is only so much we can handle before we just need rest. The kind of rest I’m talking about is not necessarily about sleeping for 12 hours straight or crashing on a sofa. I mean complete rest: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. The definition of rest, according to the Oxford Dictionary:

rest: cease work or movement in order to relax, refresh oneself, or recover strength

We, as a people, need to relax, refresh ourselves, and recover our strength. It’s necessary. Americans have always been remarkably resilient, but we must not misuse our resilience to cover up our grief. It happened. It’s okay to feel pain. I think it is important that, after this madness ends, we take time to mourn the loss of our fellow humans, but also to rest.

Rest recovers our strength. And how we do need strength! We need strength to comfort and to continue. I’m writing this because I need to, and hopefully it can encourage you to take some time today to slow down and stop what you’re doing to reflect, remember, and even relax. Get in touch with people you love. Strive to be honest and genuine with your friends and family. Cherish the seemingly small moments during your day. Smile at someone you see on the bus. Maybe even cry a little.

Take the weekend to do something you enjoy with someone you love. Rest your mind, body, and soul. You need it. I need it. We’ll get through this together.

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