Webster’s Dictionary describes rest as “freedom from activity or labor, peace of mind or spirit, or a state of motionlessness or inactivity.” Some synonyms for rest are: repose, relax, stop, stay, calm, pause, intermission to name a few. Contemplating these definitions and synonyms we see that as a culture we are not very productive at un-productivity…
Last Sunday Jesus sent the Twelve on a mission, and this Sixteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time we see them return with a report on their achievement and their preaching. The Gospel of St. Mark today tells us how Jesus notices that His people are tired; and He leads them to a place where they might rest. He knows they need food, relaxation and contemplative prayer. When a crowd shows up needing attention, Jesus teaches them and lets the Apostles rest. He knows that even His Father the Creator rested after six days of hard work…
All of us have very busy lives: we are all loaded with responsibilities at home and at work, with friends and family. Our lifestyle does not lend itself to resting; we feel guilty and “shiftless” when we do. (I just read an article where doctors are ordering walks in the woods for their stressed out patients!) We all live as “workaholics”—and just the fact that we have that word in our vocabulary shows that there is a need for its’ use. The clock—and time— rules our lives. I don’t know about you—but yesterday I was shocked to realize that we are more than half-way through July!
All of us have the sense of time running out, or not having enough time to do all that we want or need to do. Today’s Gospel shows us though that we should try and have the habit of encouraging rest for ourselves and each other. How? By making it possible through helping out where needed; by lightening existing burdens through sharing the load at church, at work and at home; by giving permission to ourselves, to those of family, friends and in this Community to do as Jesus enabled His disciples to do: to ‘take a break with God.’ It doesn’t even have to be very long—just a few hours of reprieve for rest, renewal and relaxation. We need time to reflect, refocus and recharge our energies for what is most important—a life in the Spirit. Think how much better our lives would be with us all looking out for each other’s needs—in helping others, yet knowing others are looking out for you too. This is truly Community and Communion!
Like the Gospel story today of the crowd who shows up seeking assurance from Jesus, we are a flock in distress at times (just watch the news), and we are under stress. We all need a place of rest in order to meet with our Shepherd, and to remember that we are not—we are never—abandoned. The Responsorial Psalm today—the Twenty-third Psalm—gives us the direction to this place of rest: “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures he gives me repose; beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul.” St. Aidan is a great place to be refreshed, revitalized and renewed in the Lord—and in all things: in work, in mission, in people and in play. We are so glad you are back! What a great reason to.
Just a Note: We are all busy as a staff planning the new season for all of our activities and groups starting in September—and we are all looking for volunteers to enable the work of mission here at St. Aidan. I am looking for interested singers for my ensembles (both the young and the youthful), for instrumentalists (particularly another guitarist or two and a bassist). Please come and see me—then rest up before the busy season begins…
Another Note: Here are some other ideas for your own resting: 1) Make time for doing nothing and do it with a purpose. 2) Resist the culture of busyness—if you are resting and doing nothing—own it. 3) Reorganize your environment for rest—devices out of reach. 4) Manage your expectations—get rid of the pressure of busy. 5) Think outside the (your personal) box—go to a place of rest like a spa or a park, change your location for intentional rest. I hope this helps!
Here are some songs about resting in the Lord.