"Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
TAKE THIS TIME TO REST
By: The Rev. Ann Ritonia
Growing up, my family did not have a lot of money. That meant we had to take care
of what we had so that it would last. It was a lesson we all learned from an early age.
The year my dad bought a bright blue 12-passenger van as the new family car was
one we would never forget, especially those of us closest to getting a driver’s license.
We knew we would have this van for a very long time, would learn to drive in it, and
when borrowed there would be very little privacy in our comings and goings in a small
town. My dad took great care of that van, changing the oil every 3K miles, replacing
belts that still had more than a little life in them, and regular tune-ups, even when it
appeared nothing was wrong. He loved that van even if my 4 sisters and I were embarrassed by it. Some of my fondest memories of vacations, visits to family and camping trips were made possible because of that van. We drove that van all across the country and up and down the East Coast for 10 years until it finally just wore out. Inevitably, most material things in life wear out and it happens a whole lot sooner through overuse. If you are anything like me, this past year has been a reminder of how important it is to take care of what we have if we want it to last. The same goes for our physical, spiritual, and mental well-being. An important component of that care is rest, something I have not done well this year. If you have been trying to balance homeschooling, work, and family obligations, I bet your belts, like mine, are more than a little worn. One of the biggest mistakes we can make though is to try to tough it out and not take the time we need to tune up and restore ourselves at the end of this very tiring season. In speaking to some of my colleagues, I have discovered many of us are not just tired, but we are experiencing fatigue that requires more intentional care than a good night’s sleep. And if you are fatigued, it is only a few short steps to exhaustion and that is a lot harder to bounce back from without a complete engine overhaul. This is not only expensive but also a time-consuming proposition and that is where the spiritual practice of rest comes into play. Rest, like a gasoline additive, restores our bodies to run more efficiently, clears our minds to allow for creativity and sound decision making, and energizes our spirits to connect more deeply with God and one another. The word rest is found in scripture over 200 times and literally means to relax in peace. Jesus invites us into this rest in Matthew’s gospel when he says “Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.” Christ invites us into this rest every day and now more than ever we will all need the stamina rest provides for the year ahead. So, what is your plan? How are you going to create opportunities to relax in peace? Whatever they may be, I encourage you to be intentional. As for me, I am taking time this summer to relax in peace, sleep, pray, and have some fun as a way to fill up my physical, mental and spiritual tank. Eventually, we all wear out but with rest, I hope to stay out of the junkyard a few years longer!
WHAT IS REST?
By: The Rev. Stephen Hagerty
I wonder if you have ever had the experience of driving on the highway, and you see a
sign for the next “Rest Stop” coming up in a certain number of miles. As the miles wind
down, you get closer to only to then realized Rest Stop is “CLOSED.” You know you
needed to stop, but now you have to just keep going. “No rest for the weary,” they say.
I feel like this time where many of us are re-emerging (coincidently alongside our Brood
X siblings!), the idea of rest is the last thing on our minds! The metaphorical Rest Stop is
“closed,” and we need to just keep driving. In other words, we need to get busy, get
back to normal (or the new normal or whatever we’re calling it)! I mean, who has time
to rest?!? But I think to avoid rest just at this very moment of reemerging would be a
Let’s first start with what rest is not. Rest is not just the same thing as being idle, or not busy, or slowing down. You can do all these things and be profoundly rest-less. Rest is not even just about napping or sleeping (both sacred activities, in my humble opinion). No, I think rest is simply doing one essential thing and only one essential thing at a time. To be rest-full is to know your limits and not exceed them. To embrace rest is simply to be opened to being made calm (an almost miraculous disposition in the early 21st century!). A car can be “on” but still at rest, say at a stoplight. We can be in a meeting, but still at rest, not trying to do more than simply focus. And we can be with ourselves, and be at rest, trying to simply embrace the present moment.
Like almost everything of importance, rest is a discipline that takes time and a certain willingness to learn from our limits. God told God’s people to rest, not so they would do nothing on the Sabbath, but rather would do what was essential and life-giving. Do what they have forgotten to do during the week, which was rest. So, what are you waiting for, embrace being rest-full! Don’t do everything, just the essential! Who knows, you might just find God in the rest.
By: Georgi Funderburk
Laundry. Dishes. Dusting. Weeding. Mowing. Appointments. Meetings. Pickups. Dropoffs.
Schooling. Emailing. Sweeping. Mopping. Exercising. Praying.
So many things to do and boxes to check. We head into summer, into vacations, and we
expect to find rest; but too often our vacations wear us out. Rest is more than relaxing,
stopping, practicing self-care. Rest is a time when we slow down in order to recover our
strength. Rest requires an intentional pause in our lives and depends on our willingness to
let go of the societal pressure to be “productive,” as if restoring our strength wasn’t, in fact,
sometimes the most productive thing we can do.
God, in their infinite wisdom, gave us this beautiful understanding of rest early on in
scripture. “On the 7th day, God rested.” While the first, it is not the last. Jesus frequently
pulled away from his ministry to rest, to restore, to rejuvenate. The human body NEEDS rest. The emotions DEMAND it. The mind REQUIRES it. The soul CRAVES it.
There is another definition of “rest” that I think is helpful. To rest: be based on or grounded in; depend on. Ex: "the country's security rested on its alliances." Perhaps our ability to rest depends on our ability to rest on God. This is something we must practice. I often envy Buddhists who have mastered the ability to meditate and center themselves, finding peace, letting go of stress, and becoming less reactive to their emotions. While I have often practiced the art of meditation, mastery is still a long way away.
Our Jewish and Muslim siblings daily take time to sit in prayer, to focus on something besides themselves. Their prayers give a rhythm to their daily lives that creates a space for finding rest and sabbath. That’s why I love Traci Smith’s idea of a Mini Sabbath that you can take each day — 1 minute, 3 minutes, 5 minutes of your day to intentionally seek rest and Sabbath. In her book Family Families, she gives tons of ways to create sacred moments at home. A mini sabbath can be saying three things you’re grateful for; focusing on sounds around you for 30 seconds; focusing on your breathing for one minute. Let’s make commitments to creating sacred space in our lives to discover resting in God.
Please check out Traci’s resources!
Find some mini Sabbath ideas here.
Download free Mini Sabbath cards here.
LISTENING TO NATURE
By: The Rev. Joanne Tetrault
A few weekends ago on a hot, muggy afternoon, my husband Joe and I took a
cooling nature walk at Lake Roland Park in Baltimore. There is a long, wooded trail
that runs parallel to Falls Road and Lake Roland. This park has been here forever, or
so it seems. It opened as a city/county-owned park in the 1940s but has a stone
pump house that dates to the 1850s. It was a favorite spot for end-of-the-school-year
picnics, as I recall.
On this day on the trail, I noticed not one, but at least three people riding a bike or
jogging with a small portable music player attached to them; the music delivered to
them not through ear buds or headphones, but through small speakers. Which meant
everyone they passed on the trail could hear their music, too.
Now, I like music as much as the next person, but I wondered – aloud – about playing music – aloud – on a nature trail: “What’s that about?” My husband’s response really made me think. He said, “Americans don’t like to be alone with their thoughts.” It seems to be true! A researcher at University of Virginia found that most people could sit alone in a room with no distractions for only 6 to 15 minutes.
We are so programmed to do that it’s very difficult for some of us to not do. Given that, I urge you to try it! Some call it meditation, some call it daydreaming … whatever it is, this summer, give yourself over to the restful reward of doing nothing for a little while. Let nature be your music: close your eyes and listen to the birds chat; listen to the breeze in the trees; listen to your own breathing. Practice, if need be. You’ll find a new level of refreshment that goes so perfectly with the longer days ahead.
If you’d like some prayers to ponder in your resting, consider these:
For the Good Use of Leisure (BCP, p 825)
O God, in the course of this busy life, give us times of refreshment and peace and grant that we may so use our leisure to rebuild our bodies and renew our minds, that our spirits may be opened to the goodness of your creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
For Quiet Confidence (BCP, p 832)
O God of peace, who has taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength: By the might of your Spirit lift us, we pray, to your presence, where we may be still and know that you are God; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.