The Easter Challenge
THE JOY of REST from “Sabbath” by Wayne Muller
Better is one hand full of quietness than two hands full of toil and a striving after wind.
– Ecclesiastes 4:6
When Moses becomes weary, leading his people through their trials in the desert, God tells him, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest”.
Jesus tells his disciples, “Come to me all who toil and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”.
For Moses as for Jesus, rest is a precious ointment, a balm for the heavy heart. Jesus, for whom anything was possible, did not offer “seven secret coping strategies” to get work done faster, or “nine spiritual stress management techniques” to enhance our effectiveness. Instead, he offered the simple practices of rest as a natural, nourishing, and essential companion to our work. “Learn from me, he invited, and you will find rest for your souls”.
Jesus did not wait until everyone had been properly cared for, until all who sought him were healed. He did not ask permission to go, nor did he leave anyone behind “on call,” or even let his disciples know where he was going. Jesus obeyed a deeper rhythm. When the moment for rest had come, the time for healing was over. He would simply stop, retire to a quiet place
One translation of the biblical phase “to pray” is “to come to rest”.
When Jesus prayed he was at rest, nourished by the healing spirit that saturates those still, quiet places. In the Jesus tradition, prayer can be a practice of simply being in the presence of God, allowing the mind to rest in the heart. This can help us begin to understand one aspect of Sabbath time – a period of repose, when the mind settles gently in the heart.
Who is it that can make muddy water clear? asks Tao Te Ching. But if allowed to remain still, it will gradually become clear of itself.
There comes a time when our frantic busyness only muddies the waters of our wisdom and understanding. When we become still and allow our life to rest, we feel a renewal of energy and gradual clarity of perception.
GOD does not want us to be exhausted. God wants us to be happy.
Sabbath is designed specifically to restore us, a gift of time in which we allow the cares and concerns of the marketplace to fall away. We set aside time to delight in being alive, to savor the gifts of creation, and to give thanks for the blessings we may have missed .
The Ancient texts suggest we light candles, sing songs, pray, tell stories. worship, eat, nap, and
and make love. It is a day of delight, a sanctuary in time.