“The mind that comes to rest is tended in ways that it cannot intend”
I learned of a part-time job through a post on a bulletin board at graduate school. I don’t recall all the details anymore. I remember it was a summer position. The days and time varied, depending on when a family needed help. The mom had cancer. I never met her husband as I came on the days when he was not able to be around home. They had two young children, a boy and a girl. I would come in the afternoon, hang out with the kids, bring them to activities as needed and sometimes prepare dinner. While I was there, the mom would rest.
At the time, I often felt that I wasn’t doing much to help. I realize now that she was helping me. She was modeling something important. We all need to prioritize rest. We need a kind of rest that heals and renews — a sacred downtime.
We need a kind of rest that heals and renews — a sacred downtime.
It’s not easy to stop and rest. There is always more to do. It’s hard to find time for all the things we need to do, both the important things like being with the people we love, taking care of our health and finding purposeful ways to work or serve others, and the necessary things like laundry and getting groceries. There are always other demands on our time as well. We have the constant pull of technology with emails, calls, texts, and Zoom meetings, not to mention all the distractions that busy us.
The actual work that we have to do is often not the thing that makes us weary. It’s overworking that depletes us. Over time, we can become so busy that we lose track of ourselves. We can fall into the trap of letting what we do define us. As Tim Keller says, there is the work under the work; the need to always have to prove ourselves. This is what makes us weary.
In the very beginning, God created all that is. It’s fascinating to look at how God went about his work. Every time God made something he stopped before moving onto the next thing. He looked at it and said, “That’s good.” When everything was in place, God looked over all that he had made and saw it was “very good”. And then God rested from all his work. (Gen 1, 2:1-3)
“That is what it means to rest," Tim Keller says, “to be utterly satisfied with what’s been done.” To stop and look and say that it is good. It is easier to do this when we hold things lightly, knowing that God alone will make things good. The act of stopping gives us perspective.
“That is what is means to rest," Tim Keller says, “to be utterly satisfied with what’s been done.”
We all need sacred downtime. A time and space free of everyday demands. A time to pause and remember who we are and what’s important. When the soul is at rest in God we are free to just be. Columnist Judith Shulevitz writes, “we rest in order to honor the divine in us, to remind ourselves that there is more to us than just what we do during the week.” * There is no need to prove ourselves. There’s no need to keep striving to do more. There’s no need to go anywhere or do anything. We can simply stop, rest, and be with God in the moment.
When the soul is at rest in God we are free to just be.
Jesus said, “Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace…Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matt11:28-30, MSG)
* Judith Shulevitz, “Bring Back the Sabbath”, The New York Times Magazine