Rest: Receive the gift of God’s grace, peace, & restoration
Of all the practices named in The Way of Love, this one might be the most difficult to achieve. We know that God ordained this practice in the first creation account (Genesis 2:2-3); I don’t think this means God put his feet up, closed his eyes, and fell asleep (the fact that the Creator needed rest is, I suppose, something to contemplate!) I think it’s more likely God wanted a chance to enjoy the divine handiwork, with satisfaction and without distraction; to set aside time to revel delightedly in the newly-minted universe and all its wonders as they unfolded. (Remember, this is the first creation account – no “forbidden fruit” here!) And in “[blessing] the seventh day and [hallowing] it”, God has given us both an example and a directive: as beings created in the divine image, it is God’s intention that we take time to set aside work, cares, and stress, thus allowing ourselves to draw closer to God and to enjoy and appreciate God’s gifts to us.
But setting aside the things that keep us physically, mentally, and emotionally busy is easier said than done! Some of us work too hard. Some of us lie awake at night worrying about…all kinds of things. Some of us allow stress to occupy our minds to the point where joy and relaxation seem like foreign countries. The burdens of life can make us restless creatures. St. Augustine of Hippo (d. 430) knew something about restlessness. In his Confessions, he wrote, “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in Thee.” God’s desire for his creatures is that we give over our restlessness, cares, worries and enter the heart of the Holy Trinity, where we find perfect love, pure joy, and ongoing re-creation. May you be gifted with the grace of God, the peace of Christ, and the restoration of the Holy Spirit,