As I was reflecting on today’s prayer and on the Psalm, I thought of one of St. Augustine’s most famous quotes: “Our hearts are restless, until they rest in you, Lord.” This beautiful expression of our need for God is found in the prayer that Augustine used to begin his “Confessions,” his autobiographical account of his personal experience of conversion.
I think that this phrase resonates for us now in this age where we seem to take the phrase “pursuit of happiness” to a frenetic extreme. People seem to have an increasingly difficult time keeping still and focusing on anything quiet – prayer, the beauty of the sky, a book, one’s own breath. I am not suggesting that we should renounce exercise and all activity and become “couch potatoes.” Come to think of it, couch potatoes are often just as restless as anyone else – flipping channels, never able to light upon one choice and focus.
Before I became a Sister, one of the things I studied and taught was Iyengar yoga (then it was next to impossible to find yoga clothes and we had to use carpet backing for mats). Mr. Iyengar came to visit the Twin Cities, and I remember him telling us that the problem that he had with his American students was that they were so impatient. If they couldn’t master the art within a six-week course, they often either gave up and raced on to something else or they only practiced very superficially. Many people have difficulty committing to a lifelong discipline, whether it is prayer or yoga or marriage — they are too impatient to wait for the “fruit to ripen” or to ride out rough spots.
I caught myself in this mode just the other day at the fitness center. I had done my weights and the recumbent trainer time that I was supposed to do and was in the therapy pool doing water aerobics. Suddenly it occurred to me that I should stop constantly moving and float. It felt so good just to be completely relaxed, supported by the water, really at rest.
Don’t forget to take time to really rest – whether floating, or lying on the ground looking at the sky, or praying, or resting in the arms of someone you love, or holding your sleeping child – this will give you a taste of the joy of resting in God.
Photo by Sister Jeanne Ann Weber
We come to you, Lord Jesus,
and pray as David the shepherd boy prayed in Psalm 62:
Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in Him. You alone are my rock and salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. You are my refuge … O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge”.
Thank you, Lord God, that you are our shelter in life’s storms. Help me to put all my trust in you and not be afraid.
In the name of our Savior, Jesus, amen.
Sister Joan Marie Stelman, OSB, is program director for Mission Integration in Essentia Health’s East Region. She writes in the Mission and Values section of Daily Dose, an online publication for Essential Health employees. She has graciously allowed us to use some of her writings for you to read.