HomedotMagisReflectionsThe Reign of the Cat Nap

The Reign of the Cat Nap

lion resting in tree - close-up - image courtesy of Eric A. Clayton

A deep voice riddled by static blasted through the radio. I couldn’t hear what was said and wouldn’t have understood the language even if I had. But whatever magic words were uttered, our driver’s ears perked up. Our safari Jeep was suddenly barreling across the dusty path of Nairobi National Park. We held on all the more tightly to our cameras—and our seats.

“There,” the driver said, pointing to a tree just over the hill. It was a clear day with big, marshmallow clouds populating the sky. “Lions.”

Two other Jeeps had beaten us to the spot. Another dozen or so would soon join, each responding to the crackling radio voices.

It was worth the hasty drive. Four lions lounged about in front of us, enjoying the early morning sun, the tall grass, and the view of Nairobi’s skyline. Two of the lions were in the tree itself, resting as casually as my own cat rests on my couch. Not a care in the world. Struggling, even, to keep their eyes open.

Snap. Snap. Snap. The sound of dozens of cameras echoed across the grasslands. Gasps from our fellow adventurers followed each gaping lion yawn.

We were there for the better part of an hour, lined up around a single tree to watch animals sleep. There was a point when one of the lions moved down the tree—What’s she doing?! Oh my goodness! Look at her go!—simply to resume resting closer to the ground. Another briefly considered climbing the tree in question before merely sleeping in its shade.

But wow, did we react to everything excitedly. Snap. Snap. Snap! More Jeeps pulled up. More people gasped and fawned and took videos of animals sitting utterly still.

And I’ll be honest: It was awesome. Four lions! Some of them were in a tree! I mean, call the fire department, right?

lion resting in tree - full view - image courtesy of Eric A. Clayton

But even then, in that moment, it wasn’t lost on me how over-the-top we were all reacting simply to observe creatures at rest. They weren’t juggling. They weren’t doing magic tricks. They weren’t teaching us physics. They were, at best, trying to stay awake.

And I wonder: Is that how we treat rest when it comes to ourselves? To those around us? Do we marvel at our ability to rest? Do we study our partners while they take a nap? How beautiful! Do we bask in the glow of the colleague so overworked to the point of sleeping at one’s desk? How majestic! Do we consider ourselves awe-inspiring when we do nothing more than lie down for 20 minutes?

I know I don’t do any of those things; ask my wife. Rest is just time we’re not being productive, not getting things done, not playing with our children or mowing the lawn or starting that painting project.

Rest isn’t something at which we marvel. It’s something to avoid. Or so says that inner voice within me.

But what if we changed the script? We’re supposed to honor the Sabbath, right? We’re supposed to rest—in the image and likeness of the God who created us, in whom we are reflected. I believe that God absolutely delights in watching us at rest. I believe that same God pulls up in a Jeep with the whole heavenly host just to take a picture of us snoozing.

What if we looked at ourselves and others at rest with delight? What if we rejoiced in the rest of others, marveled, and thanked God for such wonder and beauty?

Overkill, right? But it’s no less than we do with lions. Why can’t we be as awestruck by one another?

As these summer months roll on, take time to rest—and let others do the same. And imagine our God of rest delighting.

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Eric Clayton
Eric Claytonhttps://ericclaytonwrites.com/
Eric A. Clayton is the deputy director of communications for the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States. He has a BA in creative writing and international studies from Fairfield University and an MA in international media from American University. Eric writes Story Scraps on Substack. He lives in Baltimore, MD, with his wife and two daughters. Clayton is the author of Cannonball Moments: Telling Your Story, Deepening Your Faith and My Life with the Jedi: The Spirituality of Star Wars.


  1. Nice. Thanks Eric. Lions, tigers, trees, plants, human beings – we are all dignified members of the grand ecosystem.

  2. This is great in a world where people think they need to be doing something all the time.
    My son is constantly doing something and I tell him he needs to learn to ” just be.”
    I’m hoping to ” just be” on the sun lounger later on on this beautiful sunny day in England.😉😊

  3. Thank you! I’ve been struggling lately after two years of illness and death of husband and friends to allow myself to rest. Its lalways back to business…..but just lately, Jesus is calling me to keep the Sabbath holy . This helps me to really rest and smile because I know God is taking my picture!!!

  4. Thank you for « The Reign of the Cat Nap. ». It was only when I retired that I felt free to schedule a daily nap/2 hour time to myself.
    In my work life as a full-time Episcopal parish priest I was on-call 24/7, in case … well anything. Now, I have a daily 2 hours apart, I snooze,read,
    Pray or stare out the window.
    If we don’t take care to rest, no matter our age, it WILL catch up.
    Do it! Blessings

  5. What a wonderful (and humorous) essay – thank you, Eric! I’m the lone proponent of the nap in my small family, often receiving the query “well, weren’t you going to…” or “but, when will you…”. As a retired person I truly love and give thanks to God for the gift of discretion over how my time is spent – every precious moment. And when he blesses me with a nap or even a “little lie down”, it’s a time to treasure.

  6. Thank you! I feel like you just gave me permission to rest when our society says go, go, go. When Fr. John Padberg, SJ would preside at our parish Mass, he would sit down and we would have silence for two minutes. When my children were young, I felt that he was giving me permission to rest for those two minutes and sometimes they were my favorite two minutes of the week.


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