A Rest: the restorative and regenerative power of rest

Rest: stop; slow down; a period or interval of inactivity, repose, solitude, or tranquillity; refreshing ease or inactivity after exertion or labor; tranquility.  [1]

Heartist's Journey
St John the Baptist Church in Arras – an oasis of peace that reflected how we felt on our day off from pilgriming.


Today marked our first true full day of rest on our pilgrimage walking from London to Jerusalem. We arrived yesterday at our accommodation on the outskirts of Arras, a town in northern France.

After days of walking through sweltering heat and humidity, sore feet and joints we entered Arras with a light breeze and a cooling temperature.

Today the breeze had picked up and the slight chill is positively refreshing ensuring our day of rest was comfortable.

Heartist's Journey
Just like the gargoyles the initial fears and worries before starting the pilgrimage were left at the door as we entered peace through walking.


The Sabbath

In Christianity the sabbath is the seventh day of the week and holy day of rest originating from the Jewish ‘shabbath‘ literally meaning ‘day of rest’. ‘Shabbath‘ comes from ‘shabath‘ or ‘he rested‘. [2] This is the day in Christian faith that God rested after six days of Creation. For Christians it is the Sunday. For religious Jews it is observed from sunset on the Friday till sunset on the Saturday. For Moslems the holy day of rest is Friday.

Heartist's Journey
Rest can take us to a place of stillness. Rest is the doorway to the temple of peace within. [St John the Baptist Church, Arras].


We all know the restorative power of rest and relaxation. Often a good night’s sleep can be incredibly rejuvenating and we often get a different perspective on things the next morning wen we are refreshed.

Stillness, whether it be meditation, contemplation, a nap or sleep allows the body and mind to heal.

After two weeks of finding our feet with many challenges along the way today I am filled with gratitude.

Heartist's Journey
Arrested in Arras: a moment to stop on the journey to rest and reflect. [John the Baptist Church, Arras].

Arras/ A Rest

Arrest: to check the course of; stop; slow down. [3]

I ventured into the centre of Arras today not as a tourist but to find simple humble pleasures. Entering St John the Baptist Church in the centre of town was like entering a sanctuary. Light filtered through stain glass windows created an ethereal quality. The silence together with the refined stone architecture and its sense of solidity provided a protective cocoon to sit in silence.

I experienced a quiet wonderment. Not of a child’s active and curious enquiring mind, but a deeply satisfying restful bliss.

My heart filled with gratitude thinking back over the past fortnight of ‘pilgriming’. Setting off from Trafalgar Square seemed like a lifetime ago.

Heartist's Journey
Grand Place, Arras.

To Check The Course Of

It gave me a moment to check my progress. Only two weeks ago I had so many fears and doubts, would my legs take me all the way, will I get blisters, have I got the mental strength?

To Stop, To Slow Down

Through stopping, through slowing down, it provided time for reflection, a breathing space to think, to contemplate.

To Appreciate

In this nurturing cocoon every little detail filled me with new appreciation.

In a side chapel towards the rear of the church a woman laid prostrate on the cold stone floor. I stood there for a moment, a deep emotion stirred. I felt her deep devotion.

The last time I experienced this deep sense of devotion in others was in Morocco many years ago. Deep in the walled city of Meknes with its labyrinth of laneways I was invited to attend the service in the local mosque. It was hot and it was an open space that was packed in with male worshippers who had heeded the call of the muezzin. As the worshipping began I felt the collective conviction of those present and I felt an overwhelming joy erupt from deep inside that brought forth tears once the service was over.

Heartist's Journey
[Place des Heros, Arras].

The Joy of Simplicity

Rest can bring us back to gratitude. Days of rest can reconnect us to simplicity.

We left the church and sauntered down to Place des Heros, a large open air square filled with impressive Flemish Baroque facades. This was and still is a market square and the large number of narrow-fronted houses afforded more traders an on-street position. The square has been witness to over 1,000 years of market tradition. [4]

Heartist's Journey
In a restful state there is joy and gratitude in simple delights like peering into the window of a boulangerie and revelling in the simple pleasure of seeing. [Boulangerie in Place des Heros, Arras].


We wandered the streets and it wasn’t crowded with people and tourists. There was a gentle pervasive sense of calm walking on worn cobble stones and soaking up the architecture. I didn’t feel like a tourist. I felt relaxed as we meandered through laneways and stopped to admire architectural details.

I wasn’t interested in seeing all the sights, which was echoed in sentiment by my fellow travelers. Instead we simply wanted to soak up the atmosphere. We found a quiet boulangerie off the Place des Heros and sat joyously eating half a French stick with tasty fillings and an almond croissant. Heavenly.

Heartist's Journey
Fellow pilgrim Ian relaxing with a coffe in the gloriously old and heavenly grungy cafe on a side street of Place des Heros, Arras.

Simple Pleasures

We finished this morning of glorious simplicity with a coffee. I wanted to find a ‘grungy grotty little local cafe’ rather than a chain cafe or a cafe on the main square. On a side street we walked into a cafe that was a bar, a tabac, and a cafe. It hadn’t been renovated for a long time. Perfect.

Simple pleasures can often be as blissful and rewarding as being in a church or mosque when we enter that cathedral of tranquility within.


As I sit here penning these few words I feel myself ready to fall asleep. I am not one to be able to take an afternoon nap but waves of peacefulness are lulling me to sleep.

Ararat or A Rest And RelAxaTion

My mind tends to wander, and in this lulled state the words Arras and Ararat merge. Mount Ararat is mentioned in the Old Testament as the place that Noah’s Ark came to rest after the great flood. The great flood of emotions I have felt prior and during the past two weeks have settled as I ‘find my legs’. Not my ‘sea legs’ but find that peace that I feel now through walking.

Heartist's Journey
Meandering through the quiet streets of Arras on a mission for inner peace.

Sending You Blissings

We often forget to take time out for ourselves, me well included. Today I am really appreciating the restorative effects of rest on mind, body and soul. Maybe its time for you to take time out too and to feel your heart expand with gratitude.

I wish that you too can experience the bliss that comes through simplicity, from slowing down and rest.


As I finish up, I am reminded that tomorrow marks a milestone in our pilgrimage. We would have walked a tenth of the journey to Jerusalem.

Additionally, the word ‘rest’ in its original sense seems to be a measure of distance. It meant ‘league of miles’ from the word ‘rasta’ in Old High German; and ‘rost’ in Old Norse meant ‘league, distance after which one rests’. Beside rest as meaning repose, it meant ‘distance between two resting places’. [5] Quite fitting as we reach our first milestone.

As you walk through life may you experience peace. May peace be upon you – As-salāmu ʿalaykum.

Peace Be With You

So as we walk to the ‘city of peace’ (Arabic Salem and Hebrew Shalom means ‘peace’) I look forward to carrying the peace that I have felt today with me. Peace be with you always too.


1. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/rest?s=t
2. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/sabbath?s=t
3. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/arrest?s=t
4. Explore Arras tourist brochure, Office de Tourisme D’Arras
4. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/rest?s=t



What do you think?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

No Comments Yet.