Good Zeal

Life Weary, Life-Giving

Bench near the lake“Yet, all things are to be done with moderation on account of the fainthearted.”
Rule of Benedict, Chapter 48

Today I am quite tired in body and soul, so I thought I had chosen wisely to set aside daily activities and take a sabbath rest. At the end of the day, I see I have failed and have only managed a few time-outs. Why do we drive ourselves through hectic days filled with commitments, mostly good and justifiable, yet too many? How is it we can manage to take on so much? Is it because we need to feel valued and needed? Why do we always have to be doing something; what are we trying to prove and to whom?

We know about the divine economy, and how it works. The balance sheet grows with our list of debts; it is always in arrears; we cannot work enough to make a dent in what we think is owed. On God’s side, the sheet is marked “paid in full.” But do we believe it? Throughout the Rule of Benedict, the steady reminder of moderation in all things helps us to remember to slow down and be mindful of the resources available to us and how we use them, especially time.

Time set aside for prayer helps anchor our lives, but it is still insufficient. Sometimes we need to remove ourselves completely from the daily routine, where we can become still and quiet in a way that allows God to speak to us, perhaps even heal us, such as during a retreat.

Still, I struggle to have my own way. I can try to shoulder a burden Jesus wags his head over, all the while looking at me with rueful yet kindly eyes. Those eyes, that face; he is tired too, mostly of watching me pick up and haul a load I have no business bothering with, it is not mine to bear.

Seeing me under the tree where I am weary yet wanting to pray, he comes up so quietly, letting himself down beside me, shifting closer until I feel his warmth, his arm, and shoulder pressed against mine. Extending his foot, he shoves the burden I have dropped beside me down the hill. I watch it tumble and plop into the stream, where it is lifted by the current as it bobs for a moment then floats away.

No words between us, just a settling presence, a reassuring acceptance. He is listening to my heart. So near—how can I get up and move away, choose to run, and cast him off, as I often do to others when I am trying to do things my own way? Until I settle too, right here beside him, the only sounds are the burble and ripple of life in the stream at our feet, and my heart coming into rhythm with his own.

By Noel Poston, Oblate OSB

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