Bishop Reflection: Take a rest
by the Rt. Rev. Deon K. Johnson,
Eleventh Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Missouri
September 12, 2023
Jesus said to them, ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.”
You don’t have time to read this. I don’t have time to write it. We are all way too busy! There is so much to be done and to do! We have become human doings and neglected dwelling as human beings. There is freedom in taking rest. There is fulfillment in taking rest. We need rest!
In our fast-paced and demanding world, the spiritual need for rest has become increasingly crucial. Amidst the constant hustle and bustle, finding moments of tranquility and rejuvenation has taken on a profound significance for our well-being.
Rest, in its various forms, serves as a conduit to deeper spiritual connections. It offers an opportunity to detach from the many things have demand our time and our energy, inviting us to reflect on our lives and reconnect with our inner selves. In these moments of stillness, we can explore our thoughts, emotions, and aspirations, fostering a sense of self-awareness and mindfulness that is often overshadowed by the daily grind.
Jesus in his earthly ministry often stepped away from the demands of the crowds, to find a secluded place to rest. Whether it was in a garden, a friend’s house, or even on a boat in the middle of a lake in the midst of a storm, Jesus made time for rest. We should all strive to be more like Jesus.
Times of retreat and rest allow us to tap into a sense of gratitude and humility. By recognizing our limitations and embracing rest, we acknowledge our human nature and our need for balance. It is also a good reminder that we are not and cannot always be in control of everything and that we can benefit from periods of surrender and release.
But much like Jesus, we must remember that spiritual rest goes beyond physical reprieve; it involves finding solace in the intangible, it involves intention and discipline. Whether through meditation, prayer, or contemplation, we can access a deeper connection with the creation and with our Creator. These practices provide a space to seek guidance, seek clarity, and find solace in the midst of life's challenges and work’s demands.
How different would we approach rest if we saw it as an act of self-compassion, allowing us to treat ourselves with the same kindness and care that we often extend to others. This self-care is an essential aspect of nurturing our spiritual well-being, as it reminds us that we are deserving of love and care, both from ourselves and from those with whom we live, and move, and have our being.
In a world that glorifies constant productivity and busyness, acknowledging and embracing the spiritual need for rest becomes a radical act of defiance. It's a way of reclaiming our autonomy over our well-being and finding harmony in the midst of chaos. Jesus knew this. Jesus exampled this. Perhaps by recognizing the spiritual significance of rest, we can invite greater balance, introspection, and connection into our lives, ultimately nurturing our souls and deepening our understanding of what it means to be human. Rest for a while.