The Future is Now: Why Octavia Butler Is Our Muse.

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I speak constantly about the theories and ideas that ground our work. Our work did not come out of nowhere. It is not a quick reaction, but instead a deep, slow, organic and intentional exploration into the past via my connection to working in archives and studying the micro-histories of my Ancestors on plantations in the American South during slavery. The work in the archives guided me into studying the science of sleep, black liberation theology, womanism, somatics, reparations theory, and afro-futurism.  It came from my personal experience of being an exhausted black woman tired of white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism. Rest became my refuge and a portal for a connection to my Ancestors. It offered me a place to imagine, heal and be. So, when I proclaim, “Rest is Resistance” and “Rest is Reparations” it is fortified and supported by my deep study and gratitude for all ideas listed above. I am forever grateful and give honor to all my muses and teachers.

I continue to fall deeper into those who came before and have left a legacy for the study and activity of liberation, creation, dreaming and resistance. Octavia Butler and her anointed study of the future and our place in shaping, shifting and becoming are a balm and light for the crisis of COVID-19.

Below is an essay by Octavia Butler titled, “A Few Rules for Predicting the Future.” It is required reading for those who follow The Nap Ministry. I share it here in its entirety with the hope that you will take time to read it slowly, meditate on it, nap and dream with it printed out under your pillow. I dream that you will not immediately react to it but instead analyze and sit with it. This is what the fast-paced, quick, repost and retweet culture of social media has done to us – it has made the beauty of study, deep research and analyzing void. You can repost and write a hashtag in 5 seconds. You can like a post and keep scrolling for 2 more hours in a never-ending space of noise. This is not how we build sustainable movements. We must take our time and slow down. We must rest and be mindful of the power of our imagination. The future is now.

The photo above is from our site installation and collaborative project called “REST” with  FreeStreet Theater


“A Few Rules For Predicting The Future” By Octavia Butler 

Published originally in Essence Magazine in 2000, COPYRIGHT 2000 Essence Communications, Inc.

SO DO YOU REALLY believe that in the future we’re going to have the kind of trouble you write about in your books?” a student asked me as I was signing books after a talk. The young man was referring to the troubles I’d described in Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents, novels that take place in a near future of increasing drug addiction and illiteracy, marked by the popularity of prisons and the unpopularity of public schools, the vast and growing gap between the rich and everyone else, and the whole nasty family of problems brought on by global warming.“I didn’t make up the problems,” I pointed out. ‘All I did was look around at the problems we’re neglecting now and give them about 30 years to grow into full-fledged disasters.’

“Okay,” the young man challenged. “So what’s the answer?”

“There isn’t one,” I told him.

“No answer? You mean we’re just doomed?” He smiled as though he thought this might be a joke.

“No,” I said. “I mean there’s no single answer that will solve all of our future problems. There’s no magic bullet. Instead there are thousands of answers–at least. You can be one of them if you choose to be.”

Several days later, by mail, I received a copy of the young man’s story in his college newspaper. He mentioned my talk, listed some of my books and the future problems they dealt with. Then he quoted his own question: “What’s the answer?” The article ended with the first three words of my reply, wrongly left standing alone: “There isn’t one.”

It’s sadly easy to reverse meaning, in fact, to tell a lie, by offering an accurate but incomplete quote. In this case, it was frustrating because the one thing that I and my main characters never do when contemplating the future is give up hope. In fact, the very act of trying to look ahead to discern possibilities and offer warnings is in itself an act of hope.

Learn From the Past

Of course, writing novels about the future doesn’t give me any special ability to foretell the future. But it does encourage me to use our past and present behaviors as guides to the kind of world we seem to be creating. The past, for example, is filled with repeating cycles of strength and weakness, wisdom and stupidity, empire and ashes. To study history is to study humanity. And to try to foretell the future without studying history is like trying to learn to read without bothering to learn the alphabet.

When I was preparing to write Parable of the Talents, I needed to think about how a country might slide into fascism–something that America does in Talents. So I reread The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and other books on Nazi Germany. I was less interested in the fighting of World War II than in the prewar story of how Germany changed as it suffered social and economic problems, as Hitler and others bludgeoned and seduced, as the Germans responded to the bludgeoning and the seduction and to their own history, and as Hitler used that history to manipulate them. I wanted to understand the lies that people have to tell themselves when they either quietly or joyfully watch their neighbors mined, spirited away, killed. Different versions of this horror have happened again and again in history. They’re still happening in places like Rwanda, Bosnia, Kosovo and East Timor, wherever one group of people permits its leaders to convince them that for their own protection, for the safety of their families and the security of their country, they must get their enemies, those alien others who until now were their neighbors.

It’s easy enough to spot this horror when it happens elsewhere in the world or elsewhere in time. But if we are to spot it here at home, to spot it before it can grow and do its worst, we must pay more attention to history. This came home to me a few years ago, when I lived across the street from a 15-year-old girl whose grandfather asked me to help her with homework. The girl was doing a report on a man who had fled Europe during the 1930′s because of some people called–she hesitated and then pronounced a word that was clearly unfamiliar to her–”the Nayzees?” It took me a moment to realize that she meant the Nazis, and that she knew absolutely nothing about them. We forget history at our peril.

Respect the Law of Consequences

Just recently I complained to my doctor that the medicine he prescribed had a very annoying side effect.

“I can give you something to counteract that,” my doctor said.

“A medicine to counteract the effects of another medicine?” I asked.

He nodded. “It will be more comfortable for you.”

I began to backpedal. I hate to take medicine. “The problem isn’t that bad.” I said. “I can deal with it.”

“You don’t have to worry,” my doctor said. “This second medication works and there are no side effects.”

That stopped me. It made me absolutely certain that I didn’t want the second medicine. I realized that I didn’t believe there were any medications that had no side effects. In fact, I don’t believe we can do anything at all without side effects–also known as unintended consequences. Those consequences may be beneficial or harmful. They may be too slight to matter or they may be worth the risk because the potential benefits are great, but the consequences are always there. In Parable of the Sower, my character put it this way:

All that you touch/You Change
All that you Change/Changes you
The only lasting truth/Is Change
God/Is Change

Be Aware of Your Perspective

How many combinations of unintended consequences and human reactions to them does it take to detour us into a future that seems to defy any obvious trend? Not many. That’s why predicting the future accurately is so difficult. Some of the most mistaken predictions I’ve seen are of the straight-line variety–that’s the kind that ignores the inevitability of unintended consequences, ignores our often less-than-logical reactions to them, and says simply, “In the future, we will have more and more of whatever’s holding our attention right now.” If we’re in a period of prosperity, then in the future, prosperity it will be. If we’re in a period of recession, we’re doomed to even greater distress. Of course, predicting an impossible state of permanent prosperity may well be an act of fear and superstitious hope rather than an act of unimaginative, straight-line thinking. And predicting doom in difficult times may have more to do with the sorrow and depression of the moment than with any real insight into future possibilities. Superstition, depression and fear play major roles in our efforts at prediction.

It’s also true that where we stand determines what we’re able to see. Where I stood when I began to pay attention to space travel certainly influenced what I saw. I followed the space race of the late 1950′s and the 1960′s not because it was a race, but because it was taking us away from Earth, away from home, away to investigate the mysteries of the universe and, I thought, to find new homes for humanity out there. This appealed to me, at least in part, because I was in my teens and beginning to think of leaving my mother’s house and investigating the mysteries of my own adulthood.

Apollo 11 reached the moon in July 1969. I had already left home by then, and I believed I was watching humanity leave home. I assumed that we would go on to establish lunar colonies and eventually send people to Mars. We probably will do those things someday, but I never imagined that it would take as long as it has. Moral: Wishful thinking is no more help in predicting the future than fear, superstition or depression.

Count On the Surprises

I was speaking to a group of college students not long ago, and I mentioned the fear we’d once had of nuclear war with the Soviet Union. The kids I was talking to were born around 1980, and one of them spoke up to say that she had never worried about nuclear war. She had never believed that such a thing could possibly happen–she thought the whole idea was nonsense.

She could not imagine that during the Cold War days of the sixties, seventies and eighties, no one would have dared to predict a peaceful resolution in the nineties. I remembered air-raid drills when I was in elementary school, how we knelt, heads down against corridor walls with our bare hands supposedly protecting our bare necks, hoping that if nuclear war ever happened, Los Angeles would be spared. But the threat of nuclear war is gone, at least for the present, because to our surprise our main rival, the Soviet Union, dissolved itself. No matter how hard we try to foresee the future, there are always these surprises. The only safe prediction is that there always will be.

So why try to predict the future at all if it’s so difficult, so nearly impossible? Because making predictions is one way to give warning when we see ourselves drifting in dangerous directions. Because prediction is a useful way of pointing out safer, wiser courses. Because, most of all, our tomorrow is the child of our today. Through thought and deed, we exert a great deal of influence over this child, even though we can’t control it absolutely. Best to think about it, though. Best to try to shape it into something good. Best to do that for any child.

Last January, when the White House asked Octavia Butler, 52, to write a memorandum to the President outlining her vision of the future, the author chose education as her subject. “I was poor, Black, the daughter of a shoeshine man and a maid,” Butler explains. “At best I was treated with gentle condescension when I said I wanted to be a writer. Now I write for a living. Without the excellent, free public education that I was able to take advantage of, I might have found other things to do with my deferred dreams and stunted ambitions.” Instead, she went on to garner science fiction’s highest honors, the Hugo and Nebula awards.

Butler, a native of Pasadena, California, is the author of 11 critically acclaimed novels. Her loyalists return again and again to the worlds created in such titles as Patternmaster, Imago, Kindred and, most recently, Parable of the Sower, a haunting coming-of-age, feminist road novel, and its more hopeful sequel, Parable of the Talents. Winner of a 1995 MacArthur Fellowship for her fiction.


Rest Supports Grieving: Grief Rituals


As we cope with a global pandemic and the uncertainty that it will bring, I am meditating on the following: Lament, Mourning, Grief, Rest, Thriving, Spiritual Tools, and the concept of Less Thinking/Doing and More Feeling/Stillness. 

We are grieving and may not even want to recognize it or hold space for it because of our socialization to “Keep Going!” This denial of the process of grieving creates more trauma and in the long run, disrupts our healing. One of our popular memes on our IG Page reads: “Grinding keeps us in a cycle of trauma. Rest can disrupt this cycle.”

“Grieving is a process that cannot be rushed to get to the happy thoughts and self-satisfaction that our culture promotes. As a nation, we do not like to dwell on defeat or pain, we take pride in our can-do attitude of overcoming adversity.  Lament helps up to tell our stories of suffering loss and pain.”Grounded in the Living Word: The Old Testament and Pastoral Care Practices, Denise Dombkowski Hopkins and Michael S. Koppel, p.137. 

On an IG Live last week for Wanderlust, I spoke about grief rituals that we could use right now to cultivate silence, softness, and mindfulness. I uplifted the ritual of creating a grief jar and using poetry as an opportunity to experience a new language that is comforting for our hearts and minds. 

GRIEF JAR: I believe grieving is an important and deeply healing spiritual practice. I believe that God is in the details and our everyday experiences can provide space to heal, connect and honor ourselves. Our micro-histories are an opportunity to problem solve and restore balance to unsettling and toxic daily experiences. We matter. Our stories matter. Our rest matters. 

An idea on creating a Grief Jar: Find a small/medium-sized jar or container around your home that can serve as your “Grief Jar.” Place in a prominent area of your living space so that it can become a symbol for the beauty of grief, lament, and mourning. I have a small mason jar on my desk in my home office. Next, cut up pieces of paper large enough to write text and small enough to fold up. Throughout your day and week, take a few moments to notice and allow for moments of grief. Yesterday, I wrote of my tenderness and sadness for my 12-year-old son who will not be able to celebrate his birthday this weekend with his annual sleepover with friends. He told me he is sad and we leaned into the grief together. 

Remember, “Grief comes when people miss one another…Grief is an emotional recognition that something is missing. To acknowledge rather than dismiss this missing is a sacred act of reverencing absence. We can miss what has been – a person, a thing, a relationship, or a commitment, that no longer exists. We can also miss what has never been.” -Grounded in the Living Word: The Old Testament and Pastoral Care Practices, Denise Dombkowski Hopkins and Michael S. Koppel, p.121. 

After making space to notice these feelings of missing, write them down on a slip of paper and add it to the jar. Do this as many times as you need to. Skip some days if that feels right. Let the grief jar serve as a container for the particulars for the now and remembrance of your grief journey. Take a nap or daydream for a few minutes each day that you add to the Grief Jar. Be still. 

POETRY WRITING: Poetry is another language that allows us to reach deep into the truth. I have been writing and teaching poetry for close to 20 years. We have read poetry to mark the beginning and end of our Collective Napping Experiences since our first one in 2017. During this slowdown and mourning period as a result of the Coronavirus, I have been writing and reading poetry daily as a way to slow down and listen. Poetry writing also deals with details, knowing and stillness. You must listen deeply to experience the beauty of a poem. I have been working with this poetry prompt, “Things to do when grief is concerned,” and hope it is a starting point for you to experiment with constructing your own.

Here is the first draft of mine: 

Things to Do When Grief is Concerned by Tricia Hersey

Call Walgreens Pharmacy and wait on hold for 20 minutes to place an order for a prescription. Be delighted when the pharmacy tech answers. She is so sweet and pleasant. We are both overwhelmed. Pray. Rest.

Smile when you hear the US Mail truck drive near your house. Rest.

Send nudes. Respond to every text you receive with a heart emoji. Even the one from Pizza Hut. Rest.

Deactivate your FB page, Twitter account and leave Instagram for awhile. Seek out Valley moments. Things are grounded there. Rest.

Build an altar with the bathtub as the base. Pour warm water, Epsom salt, eucalyptus, and lavender oil. Baptize yourself daily. Mourn in the water. Uplift your privilege in having clean water and oils. Rest.

Reminisce about the time when you were a child at church and you counted your Mother hug 40 people between Sunday School and the dismissal of the 11am service. Long for hugs. Rest.

Get drunk off uncertainty and remember your Ancestors built a spaceship from uncertainty. Stand in the traces of this resistance. Embrace the power there. Rest.

Cry for no particular reason. Realize mid-cry there are so many particular reasons. Rest. 

Write 15 handwritten letters, mail them by getting dressed up after a week in sweat pants. Walk to the mailbox at the end of the driveway. Walk slow. Pose. Look up at the sky. Rest.

Stare out of every window at trees. Examine the sky. Give thanks for deep daydreaming. Rest.

Embrace the feeling of being out of control for 15 minutes, Feel your body free-fall into a cloud of care. Diagram this moment. Archive it for the future. Rest.

Rest. Deep rest. Slower movements. Slower moments. Focus on things with intense study. The way my hands move while washing the dishes, the smell of cocoa butter, how my cat’s stomach moves up and down while he naps for 10  hours a day. Become a vessel for stillness. A miracle walking. 

Nap. Rest. 

-Your Faithful Nap Bishop



As grind culture slows down, will you?

I don’t have any profound new wisdom that hasn’t already been in our culture. There is always ancient knowledge that we have forgotten. So much digital programming is being created right now. The crisis of this peculiar virus is sending us into a dizzying tailspin of grinding in the digital realm. It has been almost a full week that America has realized it is not immune to what happens globally. We are indeed interconnected and intertwined.

During this week, we have buckled in and created enough digital content to last us another decade. I have noticed this tendency in our culture to skip steps during trauma. We jump right to getting over it immediately, leaving no space for the precious ritual of grief, rest and lament.  In our minds, there is no time for stopping to process, even in a global pandemic that has killed thousands. I have heard very little about the lives of the people who are now gone and instead been overwhelmed with 10,000 streaming videos to work out, sing, build a treehouse, bake bread, teach math to kids, play an instrument, go to church and everything else under the sun.  We want to remain in the way it always was – super productive and focused on doing, even while the systems around us are failing and slowing down.

The truth is we will never go back to “normal” or “regular” after this crisis is contained, and for that, I am grateful and inspired. Our normal and regular pace was never meant for humans, but instead, a machine-level pace fueled by capitalism’s call to create wealth by any means necessary. I am curious now and always by what can be imagined during a true pause. Now that we are being forced to slow down, will we answer the call to collectively stop to dream, daydream, cultivate silence and rest? I believe we have a magical opportunity to stop. There is power in our rest and in our ability to slow down for the sake of collective healing and mourning. It’s time to rest.

In Rest and Power – Your Faithful Nap Bishop, Tricia Hersey


Resources for the Rest Resistance. This is about more than naps.


Text for Resurrect Rest School on Sunday, January 19, 2020: Love as the Practice of Freedom   by bell hooks

We will be reading, analyzing and discussing this article together. Around a table with highlighters and pens. We will have copies available for all but wanted to share a PDF for you to start now. Download and use it as a reference as you follow our IG page. This movement is grounded in ideas and theories that are meant to allow you to deprogram from the toxic brainwashing of grind culture. In order to shift culture and truly transform, it will take study and consistent effort. Its a process of learning.

Our vision is grounded in the following: womanism, Black liberation theology, cultural trauma, somatics and community organizing. We are not just talking about “wellness” for the sake of self-care. We are hoping to tear down toxic systems and create new ways of thriving. This is about more than naps.

Here are a few resources to dig into that have inspired this work:

Womanism: Womanist Theological Ethics: A Reader, Edited by Katie Geneva Cannon, Emilie M. Townes, and Angela D. Sims. Westminster John Knox Press, 2011.

Black liberation:

Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community,? Martin Luther King, Jr. Beacon Press, 2010.

I will add text on Cultural Trauma and Somatics, in a future post.

Photo above: Women taking a nap in church nursery during Freedom Summer Voters Right Movement in 1961. by: Paul Schutzer


Interconnectedness and Liberation


The concept of interconnectedness, collective, communal and community is central to the rest theories that support this work. I pose the question: can we find liberation by collectively napping, resting and disrupting grind culture? I believe we can and I have witnessed it in the quiet moments during our Collective Napping Experiences and immersive workshops. I am pondering all the ways in which our collective liberation and accountability are tied to truly shifting the culture around rest.   I wrote a large integrative paper while in graduate school for a class called Care of Souls in 2016. In it, I examine the work of Howard Thurman, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and James A. Vela-McConnell. I uplift my personal experiences of radical community during my father’s sudden death in 2006, while defining the ways in which these authors illuminate the potential of producing global change through a radical understanding of interconnectedness. This is an excerpt from the paper. I am meditating on the idea of Interconnectedness and Liberation as I prepare for our Resurrect Rest School programming.

The tribe surrounded me and my families every move. My mama, the new widow after 40 years of loving this man, was tended to like a newborn baby. Her eight brothers and sisters flew in from all over the country to be her witness and to lament with her. To cook her grits in the morning, to lay in the bed with her, to camp out in the basement on couches and floors. If she needed anything, it was there in one second. This is sacred community. This is the interconnectedness that is key to our liberation. When we stand in the gaps for each other and decide to be relentless in our support and witness, we can shift oppression. The beauty of this reality is that it repeats itself in many forms on our journey in life: childbirth, graduations, in protest marches, at weddings, in classrooms, with strangers on public transportation, in elevators, in courtrooms, in church pews, on war fields, on streets in gang territory, and in death. We are intimately tied to each other. We find God through each other.

     Given this experience of seeing the work of interconnectedness in action, how is our interconnectedness related to our liberation as black people in an oppressive society? How can those living in the margins activate the power of mutuality for our collective healing against racism and oppression? Can an encounter with community lead us to liberation? 

How could an interconnected and radical embrace of community serve as a form of liberation? How can we build a fortress of care and live into our role as neighbor? “It really boils down to this: That all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality. This is the way our universe is structured. That is its interrelated quality. We aren’t going to have peace on earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality(King, 254).”  This is key for our understanding today as we navigate the system of racism and white supremacy in America. I believe that our very survival spiritually rests in community. We are nothing without each other.

If you are interested in digging deeper into these themes, I have added a small bibliography. As we build our Resurrect Rest School, we will have an opportunity to study the work together.

In Rest and Power – Your Faithful Nap Bishop Tricia Hersey


King, Martin Luther, Why We Can’t Wait (London: Penguin Books, 1964).

King, Martin Luther, “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” In A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King Jr., edited by James Melvin Washington.

Thurman, Howard, “The Inwardness of Religion.” In The Creative Encounter, 19-55.

Vela-McConnell, Who is my Neighbor: Social Affinity in a Modern World. (New York: State University of New York Press, 1999), 1-14


One woman shows: Transfiguration and Reparations LIVE!


Transfiguration was staged in Atlanta, GA, May 2017 at Colony Square.

Infused with black liberation theology, poetry, spirituals, archival photos, direct action intervention and performance art, “Transfiguration” is an artistic and historical examination of the legacy of slavery, plantation labor and the commodification of black bodies in American history. It seeks to honor, reimagine and recapture the dream space that was stolen for centuries. 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? What dreams and innovations could have been produced? How can we capture what was lost? “Transfiguration” is an experimentation and conversation between the artist and her ancestors via sleep.

Reparations LIVE! is an examination of rest as a form of resistance. In this durational performance and art meditation, performance artist and liberation theologian, Tricia Hersey will use her public napping ritual as a subversive act, Her goal in using sleep as resistance is to work with her ancestors to recapture the DREAM SPACE that was stolen centuries ago. Hersey invites the public into this living altar to rest as reconciliation via the radical notion of watching a black woman sleep and perform rituals of spiritual care.

Participants can view or actively engage as co-sleepers, bringing mats and blankets as desired.

Naps provide a visionary space that allows us to heal, create and imagine, so the audience is invited to bring pillows, yoga mats and blankets to rest and resist together. Reparations LIVE! is an experimentation and conversation between the artist and her ancestors via sleep. This is reparations.

REST – A immersive performance and installation with Free Street Theater



Outdoor tent revivals meet lost Dream Space meet Chicago protest energy in REST, a new immersive performance created by the Free Street Youth Ensemble in collaboration with acclaimed performance artist Tricia Hersey, founder of The Nap Ministry. Both joyful and welcoming, REST uses movement, text, and yes, actual naps, to explore the history of forced labor in the United States, and to invite the audience to reclaim rest as a tool of liberation. Free Street toured REST to five parks across the city as part of the Chicago Park District’s Night Out in the Parks initiative.

Hersey collaborated with the Free Street Youth ensemble to co-design REST, and will perform with the company for the opening event.

Naps are Spirit Work

I am trained as a poet. Poetry is my first love and what has grounded all my work as a social justice servant, teacher and performance artist. It holds me when there is no net. I have taught poetry for 20 years to young people and adults. Its sacred work to be the guide for poetry to be created. As the Nap Bishop, I am also a guide. At our Collective Napping Experiences community members come together to nap in a safe, shared space as they harness the creative power that happens when you nap. I feel humbled and honored to be trusted with curating a nap space for others. I have seen people sleep for 3 hours or just 30 minutes, and as they awaken they are so grateful for the experience. They look different and an energy of imagination and calmness fills the room. It is spirit work to rest. It is spirit work to nap together. The Nap Ministry was created to examine the vision space that is available to us and to resist a society that tells us to grind more. Thank you for exploring this work with me. More poetry coming. More Collective Napping Experiences, retreats and of more daily napping.


Spirit Work

I have seen witches working

Poured holy oil on doorknobs

Into shoes

To keep the wanderers

From wandering

Witches know what’s best

Brown long fingers quietly stirring prayers

Bodies propelled forward

Walk around the entire house 7 times

While speaking in tongues

A gold framed photo shook off wall

From the cries

Spiritual warfare under these feet

Shiny knees no longer a prison

My mouth the battleground

I lay before the altar

Not afraid of my own voice


-Tricia Hersey

Naps as a VISION Space for Healing

The Nap Bishop sleeping.  Dreaming with her ancestors. Photo by: Charlie Watts Photography

I believe that naps provide a space for us to invent, imagine and heal. There have been numerous times in my life when a nap allowed me to work things out in my spirit that I was unable to process while awake. We are able to lay down our weary souls and offer our bodies and minds over to a sleep state. During this state, when the veil between the Earthly world and the spiritual world is thin, real healing can happen. I am grateful for this gift.

I am overwhelmed and struck by how much our bodies desperately want us to heal. Our bodies are totally focused on living and thriving. The outside influences of society and our own selves fight this healing with a vengeance. Naps can help us. So many times in my life I have decided to lay down for a quick nap because of a stress that occurred in my daily activities. I resigned myself to this quick cat nap so I could wake up refreshed and with new insight into a problem.

As an artist, I have awakened from a nap with poetry and ideas spilling from my mind. I would keep a notepad next to my bed for moments like this. I never want to forget that naps are spiritual practice that we must practice regularly for its benefits. This is one of the reasons I started The Nap Ministry – to create physical space for us to nap and heal together.

I received the beginning inspiration for this project while reading slave narratives during archival research.  I was obsessed with finding out the smallest details of  plantation life. What time did they wake up? Where did they sleep? How far were the fields from the sleeping quarters? Did they have lunch breaks? What time would they begin work? When would the work end? (I discovered that most enslaved Africans on cotton plantations worked 20 hours a day) Did they stay in the fields once the sun went down? If so, how did they see the cotton in front of them? How many pounds of cotton did they have to pick each day? Did pregnant women work until their due date? Did the pregnant women give birth in the fields? (I found reports of women giving birth and while the midwife cared for infant, they went back into fields on the same day) How hot would the temperature rise during the summer months? How many died from heat stroke? Did they ever nap?

I discovered my obsession for details was a way for me to connect with my ancestors. I would go to bed dreaming of them. One night while sleeping, I felt like my body was sinking into the bed. I felt like I was floating. I imagined that if I could connect with them in the spiritual realm, I could rest for all the centuries they couldn’t. I was desperate to provide a form of reparations for them. I will never forgot the DREAM SPACE that was stolen. The Nap Ministry is for remembrance.

Rest via napping is vital for every human being, and as I have developed this project I am learning how sleep deprived our entire nation truly is. We are depressed, sick, anxious and disconnected, yet we continue to freely give our bodies and minds over to the grind of capitalism. We have tied our entire worth as human beings into how much we can produce financially. We are killing ourselves by openly being bamboozled by a society that tells us napping is lazy and unproductive. I want you to RESIST. I want you to free yourself. I want you to nap. I want you to dream. There is healing waiting for you. There is a vision space waiting for you to enter into via rest. This is holy work. Join me there.

How will you resist? Share your stories of how resting has helped you heal.