Wednesday, May 10, 2023

Word from a Hermitage: Rest

As I prayerfully spent time with Scripture on a recent silent retreat, I noticed a certain theme that began to bounce back and forth in my prayers, emerging from the passages I read. This word brought with it multiple levels of depth, and through it, God presented beautiful challenges to me. I’m still pondering the various ways that God touched my heart in those twenty hours of solitude, when the sounds that greeted my ears were the happy gurgles of my baby and the low moos of the cows that meandered up to the hermitage's fence. 

In this silence and solitude, I came to God in prayer. I brought names and intentions of many people as the hours trickled by. I breathed in the joyous peace of the hermitage and the land that surrounded it, and tried to listen intently, deeply, to the voice of the Good Shepherd.

With gentleness and love, God nudged me again and again with that word: rest. I’m grateful, for in those moments of prayer, I realized that I can grow so much in this activity. Yes, activity—for rest is not passively, apathetically letting the world and our duties slip by. Instead, I think rest can, perhaps, include a rich level of activity as my body and soul engage with God in prayer.

Although my life seems very peaceful, slow-paced, and restful, God helped me honestly examine the ways in which I continue to struggle with rest—by myself, with others, and with Him. 

Can I let myself really, truly rest? Can I put aside the phone, the writing projects, the household tasks, the long list of activities that I think I “need” to do? Can I push away the expectations of other people and simply rest?

The questions keep flying as I ponder the gift—and necessity—of rest in our lives. The timing of this word, these prayers, is perfect (as God’s timing always is). Here we are caught in the in-between days that dance between spring and summer, when certain activities wind down and summertime schedules have not yet begun. When I see just how slow our family’s pace of life is; we, unlike countless other families, are not hurrying from one end-of-year-activity to another. In these in-between days, I sense a sort of restlessness in myself, a wondering if we should be doing more, if we are doing enough. If I even want to do more than I currently am doing.

And, in all of this wondering and restlessness, God strikes my heart with that message, offering a challenge to me. 

Will I let myself rest?

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