“A truly spiritual life is life in which we won’t rest until we have found rest in the embrace of the One who is the Father and Mother of all desires.”
~ Henri Nouwen, Here and Now
As I write this I am just coming back from a difficult January health-wise. It started with a tummy bug, then a mild upper-respiratory infection. With it came sensations of a plugged ear and loss of smell and… crushing fatigue. After the busyness of the Christmas season all my body really wanted to do was rest.
An afternoon nap became a reoccurring event. There was no option it seemed… I just had to lie down and sleep.
During that time I started re-reading a Here and Now, written by one of my favorite Christian authors, Henri Nouwen. When I came upon Henri’s description of the spiritual life, I wondered… “Does my spirit ever demand that I rest?” And if so – “Do I heed the need?” Do I even recognize when that part of me that resides deeper than my flesh, deeper than my thoughts, (yet is influenced and expressed through both) is rest-less? And how might I attend to this spiritual part of me?
I like to think that all of us at St. James are travelling on this spiritual quest of true rest together. Although sometimes it seems that we are racing about, so busy with “church business” that the business becomes the sole expression of our spirituality. As we enter this season of Lent, let us encourage one another to stop, turn, and seek out the embrace of the Holy One. How we do this will be different for each of us – for we are all so uniquely made. Just as Nouwen put it, some will resonate with the image of an embrace by our heavenly Father. Some will appreciate more the image of resting in the arms of our heavenly Mother. Perhaps that embrace will be sensed on a quiet walk; preparing a meal with love; listening to music; making music. Perhaps spiritual rest will be found in a caring conversation with someone a loved one. Some will sense the embrace in sacred silence.
One thing I am assured of…this Holy embrace is there for the finding. As children of God: fully known and deeply loved, you are of great importance to the One who created you. You belong to God. As much as we long for God’s embrace – God longs to embrace us.
May you fashion this Lent into a time of deep listening, deep searching, and of resting. May you sense the restlessness of your spirit and attend to it. I invite you to pick up from the church office a copy of “Lifted up in Love”: a little Lenten daily devotional inspired by Holy Scripture and the writings of Nouwen. Join us on Wednesdays at noon in the church lounge as we take the passage for that day and ponder what it means to respond to the beckoning call of Love. I also invite you to visit the sanctuary on Wednesday evenings at 6:00 pm and welcome silence.
My dear friends – may the embrace of our heavenly Father – our heavenly Mother - bring us to a place of deep assurance – so that on Easter Day our shouts of “Alleluia” will be an embodiment of our newly found union with God.
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” ~ Jesus