Last week was a week of recovery. I am physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted. The excuses for this are many….graduations, too much time on the road, summer school, preparing for a mission trip and on and on. But in truth, the real reason is that I forgot. I forgot, in all my busyness, that my soul has a great need to simply rest in God.
One morning last week, because I am behind in one more thing, reading for Sunday School, I spent some time catching up. I was also working on my physical training schedule since I have missed most of the last three weeks. I always seem to hear God more clearly when he uses the collision of two ideas.
I am closing in on 50 later this year and on my 49th birthday, started a CrossFit class. CrossFit is a short, intense workout that is specifically scaled for each participant and changes every day. A friend told me that my only goal for the first 6 months should be to simply show up. I’ve done that. CrossFit has been the hardest and most rewarding thing I’ve ever done physically. While I’ve made great strides with my endurance and strength, my body aches in places I wasn’t sure I even had before now. I sat that morning working on a new schedule that incorporates two days of rest and stretching into my routine. My body simply needs that. It is speaking loud and clear.
At the same time, I was trying to read the last chapters of The Desert Mothers, by Mary Earle, an Episcopal priest. We are studying the book in Sunday School and I am, now and most always, behind. I blame it on being glued to the TV watching The Voice over the last several weeks but that guilty pleasure is the subject for another post. I digress.
As I completed my training schedule, I read Chapter 8, Showing Up Daily, or Becoming an Ascetic. Mary talks about the kinship between an athlete’s dedication to training and the discipline of a spiritual journey. Regular practice is an essential element even when the discipline has become boring or even painful. The journey is not an overnight process. I cannot become physically fit in 30 days, nor can I complete my Christian transformation. It is a lifetime practice to deepen and maintain.
And then, at the end of Chapter 8, Mary said that words that spoke so directly to me. “It is often when we feel that dispirited restlessness that we most NEED to rest, to cease from doing, simply to be quiet and breathe.” I understood that message so clearly from my body and my physical training. It took Mary’s words to remind me that my soul needs that same rest.
Just as I built in time for rest and stretching into my physical training, I have now incorporated times of rest in my spiritual discipline. No reading, no prayer book, no verbal prayers. Just resting. Just breathing in God. Breathe in me, breath of God.