This last week I was talking to my spiritual director about the conflict within me about rest. I feel guilty and useless when I rest even when I know I need to be doing it to let my injured muscles heal so they can again be strengthened. Knowing it and living it are two different things though. As I talked with her, she helped me to recognize the guilt and point out that the ambivalence doesn’t allow for rest and exacerbates the problem.
Our conversation led me back to our recent Art Vocabulary for the Soul retreat at the beginning of November. One of the scriptures we reflected on was Isaiah 30:15-18, which begins
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.
But you refused…”
the passage goes on to talk about the Israelites refusal and running away and in the consequences of their flight finding themselves all alone:
“until you are left
like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain,
like a signal on a hill.”
God was calling the Israelites back to him- return to me, repent. But they wanted to go their own way. In verse 18, we see God waiting for the Israelites to repent and return to him:
”Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you;
therefore he will rise up to show mercy to you.
For the Lord is a God of justice;
blessed are all those who wait for him.”
One of the participants at the retreat related to “the flagstaff on a mountain” and painted an oil painting of a desolately lonely, battered flagstaff on a very gray wintry mountain on a cold, gray day. It spoke volumes as it reflected our state when we run away to do things on our own.
At the retreat, my shoulder was bothering me so resting was on my mind. I painted the scene in front of us as we looked out the large windows at the lodge. The view was overlooking Pigeon Lake. The barren trees were already preparing for winter and a season of rest as the last of the leaves had fallen. Last week, my shoulder was feeling better, so I finally finished the painting I started at the retreat. As I look at this painting of resting, I am reminded that everything has a season. And this is my season for rest.
Well I have been here before. And I will be here again. I am like the Israelites. Are you?
Knowing and accepting my limits is part of the rest and taking care of myself that I continue to come face to face with. I am learning to ask for help as I need it - and not stubbornly going my own way. I am listening to my body when it needs to rest.
I have another month to allow my body to heal and strengthen my shoulder before classes start up again. I look forward to Christmas with the family members here and a quick New Year’s visit in Spokane with my parents and sister.
In this Season of Christmas, may you find space to rest.