Rest, Not Escape

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“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden light.”

— Matt. 11:28

I understand what it means to be weary – to feel a loss of self in the demands of motherhood. Within the context of parenthood-induced exhaustion and the mind-numbing grind of infancy, it isn’t always easy to believe that rest, the kind that increases confidence, grants peace, and renews strength and patience, is as readily available as scripture would make it seem. Recently, I have spent hours searching, screaming, and crawling looking for that elusive respite.

After several months of tiresome work however, and as the end of my rope neared, G-d helped me understand a couple of very important things:

First – The “devil” is not all that concerned with getting us to do little acts of evil. Rather, the enemy’s chief aim is to get us doing nothing-in-particular. And to this end, he has us filling up our brief moments of freedom and quiet with Facebook, Instagram, and compulsive email checking (maybe I should open that email from Pottery Barn).

Second – These small moments add up, and our mindless slips can actually keeping us from Christ and His rest.

“If the vessel of our soul is still being tossed by winds or storms, we should wake the Lord Who has been resting with us all along, and He will swiftly calm the sea.”

— Brother Lawrence

As it turns out, if we simply turn these brief moments to the Lord, if we put our phones down and take a few deep breaths through a slowly whispered Jesus Prayer – He will give us rest.

Giving up these moments of escape feels like an immense sacrifice because most of us are living this silly little lie that there is actually rest in escape – in mindless television watching and internet surfing.

But the truth is this:

Rest – the kind of life giving, penetrating rest that a young parent requires – is in G-d. And G-d is in more than just the silence. G-d is in the noise. Christ can be found in the constant and repetitive quotidian tasks that demand our attention.

For centuries monks have taught us that Christ is a wonderful companion in drudgery. That he loves folding laundry, keeping bees, scrubbing floors, and cleaning dishes. Those quiet, bustling people know that chores done mindfully and with intention can be a gateway to heaven if we do them as one called to servanthood and caring.*

You don’t have to move heaven and earth to muster your concentration (young parents will concur that sometimes it seems to take an aligning of the planets to concentrate). Prayer doesn’t always require concentration. What it does require is a few deep breaths and faith that when you function in your call, Life is prayer. Chores are prayer. Caring is prayer. Give yourself fully to this truth. In good faith and trust, set your phone down for a few seconds. Seize your rare moments of silence as opportunities to listen rather than escape, and you will find rest. That is a promise.

*For an excellent example of one monk simply living this truth, consider Brother Lawrence’s, The Practice of the Presence of God. 

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