Sickness and forced rest continue to teach me a lot. Over Thanksgiving break, I got sick with a cold. I was fighting it off for several days, then Thanksgiving afternoon the sore throat hit, and I was on the couch, not really paying attention to much. But Friday just meant watching 6 hours of Gilmore Girls, eating leftovers and drinking lots of tea, coughing and blowing my nose, and sleeping.
Even though I felt awful, I came back to the thought, “It’s good to just completely rest”. I’m a lot better at resting than I used to be. I set aside time to read, to write, to just watch TV. I make sure that I don’t have too much going on. I can say “no” when I need to. However, being sick is an invitation to just care for your body, and not really worry about much else.
This time of year in the midst of Christmas-everything, nature is telling us to rest. The days keep getting shorter, and ironically we try to get more done. There’s the shopping, the baking, the traveling, the attending of parties, the decorating. But what if this Advent we listened to nature a little bit more? What if we took a walk in the crisp winter air instead of congregating in shopping malls? What if nature actually helped us prepare for Advent?
The season of Advent contains longing, desire, and waiting. I know that when I rest, I become aware of my deepest longing and desires. As I rest, I can grow a larger “holding tank” for all that I hope for and feel. I’m not trying to escape or to hide my desires. And as a pattern of rest continues, I’ve found that I desire to rest in community.
Rest takes on a particular necessity to those who experience intense suffering. Or for those who feels that they cannot rest, they long for it deeply. We all as humans, long for a reprieve in the midst of suffering. We want a pause button. We long for a meaningful conversation, appropriate touch, eye contact, for time to slow down, to share a meal with someone else. We want to be seen, not ignored or forgotten.
As we rest, we have the reserve to reach out to those in need of rest. Our emotions, no longer deadened, can view a person’s suffering from a compassionate heart. We comfort those, as someone else helped to comfort us. As we experience Advent this year, we can take comfort in Christ as vulnerable, needy baby. He had limits as we do.
Rest allows us to embrace our limitations, and to find a communal life among the suffering. I’m certain that Christ must be in our midst with a teary eye.
(Rest can also be your roommate laying on the ground with her dog after putting up the Christmas tree 🙂