This weekend I had the opportunity to get away to visit friends. It was a quick visit (late afternoon to noon the next day) but we enjoyed an excellent dinner, played cards, talked each other’s ears off and just enjoyed being together. As I drove home I reflected on how rested and relaxed I felt, as if I had enjoyed a mini-vacation. I remembered that I felt that way when I spent two days with these same friends at Christmas. I resolved that our visits were too few and too far between and that I needed to connect with them, or other good friends for activities more often.
Then I started to reflect on the times when I had felt that same sense of restoration as a result of having spent time in prayer.
The first time I noticed that same surge of energy and sense of recovery from the burdens of life was during a retreat on Benedictine Prayer. We all came together in the chapel for a half hour of silent prayer. It was the end of the day and I dragged myself, tired and wanting to go to bed, and perhaps a touch grumpy to the chapel. We settled in and entered into the silence. When the gong sounded at the end of the prayer time, I felt re-energized, re-newed, and re-invigorated. There have been times since when time spent with God gave me that same renewal of spirit: times when I chanted or sang for a concentrated period of time, times when I entered fully into centering prayer, or deep theological reflection. I realize that I need to resolve to spend that kind of quality time with God more often. I have to quit tackling life on my own strength and out of my exhaustion and start spending more time with God, so that I feel rested, restored and as if I have had a mini-vacation. I am certain that this will bear results and make me far more productive in my work and private life. The big question of course is will I? I am good at making resolutions, and not as successful at keeping them. But if I don’t, then I know I will lose out on a blessing beyond comparison.
This is the promise from God’s word, found in the 23rd Psalm. May it be for me and may it be for you.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long.