A colleague introduced me to The Nap Ministry which is – yes – about self-care and getting enough shut-eye. And it’s also about much more.
Naps are a holy place, spiritual practice and a form of resistance for those living in the margins, navigating racism, poverty, violence and discrimination. What could have happened if we were allowed the space to rest?
The other night I was blessed to participate in a conversation about weathering and African American women. This is a subject for a year’s worth of blog posts and I’ve been thinking about Women of Color who are in my life.
- I think about my friend S. whose life has been exhausting for most of her 30 years. She is currently homeless and doesn’t want to live in a shelter because her spouse will not give her custody of their children if she’s living in a shelter. And so – without a car or a phone – she tries to find work and shelter and food. What takes me five minutes takes her two hours because of her situation.
- I think about T. who took care of me and my siblings when we were young children. One day my Dad let me ride with him to take T. home and when we pulled in front of her dilapidated house with several children my age playing in the yard, I asked her, “Whose children are these?” And she said “They are my children.” I didn’t ask the question out loud, but I though it: “Who takes care of your children when you are taking care of us?” (Note: We didn’t even call her “Miss T.” Just her first name.)
- I think about my sisters in ministry who are Women of Color. Like all clergywomen, they have to deal with everything from comments about their hair to comments about their clothing. But Women of Color have additional burdens. What church will call them to serve? (Very often African American, Korean American, and Puerto Rican congregations will not call Women of Color who’ve come out of their own congregations. And neither will White churches.) And then they have to deal with all the everyday stress of not appearing to be “too ethnic” or “too loud” or “too angry.” But they also have to work all the time so that people will know they are “committed.” It’s exhausting.
- I think about the women at the border. They have fled violence and quite possibly fended off further violence along the way. And they have children who can be taken from them. And they don’t speak English and they are hungry and they are desperate. What I would give to be able to pay for hotel rooms with hot showers and comfy beds for every one of them.
Life is remarkably easy for me. I don’t have to prove that I’m worth being in the room these days mostly because of 1) my professional experience and 2) my age. My skin color has allowed me in most rooms for most of my life.
I don’t have to worry about my husband being pulled over and humiliated on his way home from a night meeting. I don’t have to worry that someone will yell “Go home” to me if I’m out walking in my neighborhood. I don’t have to worry about a safety net if everything goes south.
Imagine a world in which we just stopped and rested because we could? Most of us can indeed stop and rest. We just don’t.
And there are millions of others who can’t stop and rest because of who they are and what they are going through.
Some of us have the power to allow others to stop and rest. Let’s do that. And let’s nap for the sake of our souls this weekend. We get an extra hour of sleep.
This post is dedicated in memory of Erica Garner for All Saints Day.