Required to Rest

“Action, then passivity;

Striving, then letting go

Doing all one can do, and then being carried…

only in this rhythm is the spirit realized.”  

“The essence of being in God’s image is our ability, like God, to stop. We imitate God by stopping our work and resting. If we can stop for one day a week, or for a mini-Sabbath each day, we touch something deep within us as an image bearer of God. Our human brain, our bodies, our spirits, and our emotions become wired by God for the rhythm of work and rest in him.” -Robert Barron, And Now I See

Over the past two weeks, I’ve been convicted and encouraged to take inventory of my busyness and life rhythms. I’ve been prompted to conduct a self evaluation of the state of my heart and the observance of Sabbath in my life. 

The result of these things have brought a new awareness and perspective I haven’t found before. It has sparked a journey into learning new spiritual disciplines and figuring out how to wire these new practices into my life. I believe I’m stepping into a new, sacred place of life.  

The first and most important step in all of this was to do something I find incredibly difficult to do- to stop. Honestly, stopping wasn’t my choice. I was forced to stop. A class requirement of a day long Soul Sabbath at a spiritual retreat center run by the Sisters of Notre Dame required me to so.

Funny how a requirement produced a desire to seek out more silence, solitude, and Sabbath in my life. How “having to” turned into “wanting to.” How stopping started new dialogue, reconditioned my heart, and expanded my vision and goals. The whole time I was thinking I was checking off a work box, but God was checking in on my heart and drawing me in closer to Him through rest. 

“Stop, rest, delight and contemplate” are four principals of Sabbath that Peter Scazzero writes about in his book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality. I’ve been focusing on these things and soaking up silence and solitude (as much as a mom of three can find). I’ve been discovering new rhythms, paying closer attention, hearing better, and sampling the “something greater that awaits.” It doesn’t look perfect and holy, it looks more like stumbling and tumbling, but it is a forward moving, in a more peaceful process with intention to be in God’s presence and be present for others.  

Our Lady Queen Chapel
Notre Dame Spirituality Center
Ipswich, MA

I don’t know what the current condition and the state of your heart and life is. I don’t know if busyness and striving is stealing joy, peace and contentment away from your life and relationships. Maybe you feel like you’ve become lost in a storm of choices you’ve made (including the good ones that have become time consuming restrictions.) Maybe you feel like you are what you do, and have lost sight of who you truly are. Many people struggle with busyness, balance, work addiction, and high, unhealthy expectations. If you feel this way, you are not alone. Finding time to be alone, more specifically alone to be with God, can help.

I invite you to do the incredibly difficult work to stop. It doesn’t need to be a whole day of silence and solitude, but at least an hour of time, preferably more, of intentional rest and no work. 

Ignore the lies that it cannot be done. Make it happen. You may need to force yourself to this. You may need to say no to something or someone. You may need to ask someone to watch the kids. Shut off your phone, silence social media, get outside, go for a walk, or take a nap. It may not feel “productive,” but it will be more productive in the long run. And maybe, just maybe, stopping to rest will start something new- a plan of action for more silence, solitude, and Sabbath in your life too.

Cheering you on, friend!

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him;

Psalm 37:7


The Empty Bucket

The Empty Bucket

Drop, drop….drop! On December 31st at 11:59 pm, one last drop filled your bucket to the brim. Not one more drop could fit.  No time was left. Nothing could be drained out, replaced, changed, or fixed. As the clock struck 12:00 am, your year was done and you were left with a completely filled bucket. A finished year.

Reflecting into the full vastness of the bucket, the combined swirling drops of different experiences, interactions, and relationships. What do you see? Are you pleased with how your bucket was filled? Do you see drops of happiness, sadness, love, challenges, blessings, or drops of faith? Do you see stressed and broken relationships or healed and restored ones? Drops of wise choices or misguided actions and judgments?

Maybe you had a great year. You accomplished personal goals, learned some new things, and you were a good, decent person.  Store and treasure those things in your heart. Build on the good work that has been started in you.

Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6

Maybe your year was anything but great! Maybe it was a year full of disappointments, regrets, hard decisions, instability, loss, too many shattered dreams and lost hope. Maybe it was a year you wish not to repeat.

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.  Isaiah 43:18-19  

Out with the old and in with the new.

It’s a new year. You have a new bucket. A shiny new bucket. A bucket waiting to be filled up one drop at a time by future experiences, interactions, and reactions.

What are you going to start to fill your bucket with? Will it be a bunch of resolutionsMost of which end up being things that we have to do and do not accomplish. Or should we fill our bucket up with revelations? Revelations that include pleasant, enlightening surprises, and noticing the divine interventions in our every day life.

When January 1, 2017 comes along and you are looking into the full, deep bucket of 2016, I hope that you will see more revelations than half-completed resolutions. I hope that they are the types of revelations that have caused you to shift your perspective, stretch and grow you. I hope that you will find strong currents among the filling drops which will include good relationships, hope, joy, peace, and love.

For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Isaiah 55:12 

Do you have a spiritual focus for the new year? A focus word for 2016? I would love to hear from you.