Sunday, April 14, 2013

Rest

a solitary figure plays the pan flute in the open desert

A few Sundays ago, my wife and I were walking along a desert trail above the retreat house,  when suddenly we heard the plaintive sound of a pan flute filling up the open space and echoing off the mountains.  In the distance we saw a man, standing on the desert floor, looking up into the heavens and playing his mystical, soul-filled song.  

As I stood there, immersed in  the beauty of the desert, with the music wafting through the air, I felt an incredible sense of peace. 

When I was a parish priest, Sunday mornings were anything but peaceful - the services, sermons, meetings, baptisms, special services. For me, Sundays were hardly a day of rest. But I suppose that, for most people, Sunday is no longer a day of rest.

Nowadays many people have to go to work on Sunday. Even if Sunday is a "day off," it's often a time  to do the errands and the household chores, go shopping, catch up on the emails,  and get ready for the work week yet to come. 

Some 1500 years ago, Saint Benedict (the "father" of Western monasticism) spelled out a spiritual pathway for his monks, consisting of daily doses of prayer, study, work and rest. Yes, for Benedict "rest" was an important and necessary part of the spiritual journey.  

Too much work, too much prayer or study and no rest, would lead to the soul getting weary and dried out. Without rest the spiritual journey becomes tedious.  I think Benedict was exactly correct.

A few Sundays ago,  as I listened to the pan flute echo off the mountains, it was a moment of gentle rest for me, and I realized that I probably hadn't "rested" for a long time. I need to be more "restful" along my soul-searching path. 

Maybe we can reclaim Sunday as a "Day of Rest," or at least be sure to include "restfulness" in the routine of our everyday lives.  Take a nap, listen to some music, go to a park, take a bike ride. 

Rest!

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