The 4th Sunday in Lent: REST
This past week has been strange and surreal with the reality of the corona virus upon us. Empty grocery store shelves. Take out only in restaurants. Schools shut and churches closed. Social distancing and elbow bumps. Empty streets. This moment in time might forever change how we see the world and this moment might remind us of some eternal truths as well.
Father Ron Rolheiser states, “For many of us we are too busy, too stressed, too tired, or too preoccupied” to enjoy the beauty of life, the elegance of a blue bird, the delight of a child laughing, or a slow walk to no where in particular. “We rise early, groan as our alarm clock startles us from sleep, rush through breakfast, ready things for the day, fight crowds and deadlines, settle into tasks that are demanding and draining, eat lunch on the run, more demanding tasks to get done in the afternoon, and then we rush home to share a meal with others who are just as tired and restless as we are.” And, we usually have a slew of evening activities and meetings to attend before we can go to sleep and do it all over again.
We tend to be busy, restless people. It is the American way. We can never get enough done. We are tired and “our souls feel dry.” Wayne Muller in his wonderful book “Sabbath” says, “Nothing seems to heal our fatigue, this sense of guilt, duty, and responsibility. It all feels so heavy.” So, we soldier forward with blinders on.
With the virus here though, health experts have told us to stay at home as much as possible, to hunker down. Jesus tell us, “Come to me all ye who are weary and carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest.” Rest. What a beautiful word. Muller says one translation of the biblical phrase “to pray” is “to come to rest.” When Jesus prayed, he rested. God’s spirit nourished, replenished, and filled his soul. In prayer, especially contemplative prayer, we rest in Christ. Our souls rejoice in God’s presence as we pray, slow down, or hunker down.
Rest is a precious ointment that we will never find on the grocery store shelf. Thank God. It is a gift freely given. As Muller says, Jesus did not offer us seven secret coping strategies or nine spiritual stress management techniques to enhance our productivity. Instead, Jesus offers us the simple practice of rest to heal, to restore, and to replenish our souls and our lives.
As we hunker down in this time of unknowing, may we remember Jesus’s invitation to rest. He followed a deeper rhythm. When Jesus got tired, he stopped whatever he was doing and rested. May we find quiet places to pray and to rest. May our souls be restored and may our cups overflow. May we lie down in green pastures and may we drink from still clear waters. Amen.
Blessings and peace to all of you,