Ben Smith of Tootgarook, Victoria, Australia
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” -Luke 4:17-18
I’m learning that one of the greatest challenges in life is to be balanced. It seems juggling all of life’s needs, wants, and dreams is filled with circumspect as we traverse tasks and lists trying to fulfill all of our goals. We want to experience more: more happiness, more love, more drama, more achievements, and more moments of joy. At the same time, we want to learn, grow, and develop as people. And rest? Ha!
Yet, as we learn through Jesus’ voyages to the mountains or seas, he was often overwhelmed by the task or by people, requiring time to himself in the quiet places of rural Palestine. We read in Matthew 14:22-23 that after Jesus spent time healing, feeding, teaching, and grieving, he needed time to rest. There was, no doubt, more people to see and more work to be done, yet he used this moment to teach a lesson about rest. This message is for each of us in our journey. There are times when we go, powering ahead at full steam, achieving huge gains in what feels like an instant. Then other times we are of more use to each other and the community if we breathe and rest.
As I’ve traveled around this year I’ve heard many stories of burn out, exhaustion and tiredness from our leaders. I’ve felt it myself. When you feel you are unbreakable and have the energy of the sun, life is great and you feel like balance is easy! But when the scale tips even a fraction, all of a sudden the equilibrium becomes something we need to focus on with intent. It’s at this point we must listen to our bodies and those around us. Our bodies are incredible; they tell us all sorts of things if we listen to them. Our families and friends also are wonderful at telling us to slow down.
So, my friends, as we go boldly, do so with caution and thought of the health of your soul. This life is not a race to some place or finish line; it is a long journey of experience, love, and wonder. Let’s hold each other in that light as we strive to pursue lives filled with peace and compassion. There may be urgency, but there’s no rush.
“Over the years we melt into what we seek” (Joan Chittister, The Liturgical Year).
We are in the threshold between seasons in the Christian calendar. You may have been noticing the physical transitions of the seasons wherever you live as some enter the depths of winter and others the warmth of summer. The seasons are a visible reminder that even among the most predictable rhythms and routines of our lives, change is always happening. The events of our moments, days, weeks, years form us and transform us over time. We enter each season different from when we arrived here last. This is the nature of this cyclical journey of faith. In these final days of the Christian calendar and the season of Ordinary time, there is opportunity to take a sacred pause, to notice how you arrive in this threshold. What have you been formed by this year? What has been deepening you as you’ve lived through another cycle of this life of faith?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.