Forty Days Revisited, Day 17–Time to Rest

Tonight I found myself working yet again, preparing some remarks I need to make at a forum. I knew I was tired, but even as I sat here typing my notes, I nodded off several times. I had acknowledged to my partner what I’ve known for a long time: I don’t sleep very well, and having gone to doctors and such to figure out why, they finally gave up trying to figure out the cause, and simply treated the symptoms. Not very helpful.

And so I thought I’d revisit a post I wrote two years ago about rest. As I re-read it, I found that I still very much resonate with what I wrote then. So I repost it here, for my recollection and your consideration.

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The Next Forty Days, Day Eight–No Rest for the Weary

“Foxes have dens, the birds of the air have nests. But the son of man has no place to lay his head.”

I don’t sleep very well these days. I have two different gadgets telling me so. I can speculate why this is occurring, but almost don’t care about the why of it; my concern is on the what to do about it. There are all kinds of articles on the internet about the importance of sleep and the sometimes dire consequences of not getting enough. I look at them through one bloodshot eye and try not to take them too seriously. I know it’s important to get sufficient rest each night (though how on earth they landed on seven to nine hours I’m not certain), and I know I am not getting enough. The trick is not letting this awareness of my sleeplessness make me, well, more sleepless.

The alarm rings at 4:55, 5:04, and 5:11 a.m. (don’t ask). By the time I write in my journal, read in my daybooks, exercise, and perform my morning ablutions I’ve already been up nearly three hours before I start my work day. Most days I flit from meeting to meeting to meeting with almost no breaks, and sometimes there even is a meeting at lunch time. I lead meetings, I sit and listen at meetings, I give presentations (at meetings), and have meetings to plan other meetings. At the end of eight or nine hours of this, I haul myself to the parking garage, climb into my car and commence the 30-minute drive home. By the time I arrive at the house it is 6:00 p.m. and I am ready to crawl into bed. I don’t, of course. I walk and feed the dog, determine what I am going to feed myself, and sit for a bit watching the news while I eat. I check in with various people via phone or text, then settle down to do a little more work, or write my blog, before heading toward slumberland most days before 10:00 p.m. That’s a lot to do on 4 hours and 34 minutes of “quality” rest. No rest for the weary, I guess.

Too many of us these days run and run and run until we’re running on fumes. We rush kids to school then screech off to our jobs, to the grocery store, to the school, to the university, and dozens of other places. We get up too early, attempt to function on too little sleep, put in 8, 9, or 10 hour workdays. We shlep to our parking structures, climb into our cars to run to daycare to pick up children (or doggy day care to pic up Rover), all the while wondering what we’re going to have for dinner. While this is not everyone’s every day reality, it’s all too real for many people. No rest for the weary.

As I think about these 40 days and wonder what Jesus did, what his workdays must have been like. I mean, the guy spent hours teaching, preaching, and ministering to people sometimes numbering in the thousands. Everybody came wanting something from him, some of them coming from miles away, waiting for hours simply to hear him speak, to catch a glimpse of him, and perhaps even to be spoken to or touched by him. (I picture Pope Frances following a similar kind of schedule, actually.) He would interact one-on-one with person after person, touching them, healing them. Each time he healed someone something “went out of him.” How many tens or hundreds of people lined up to be healed by him in a given day? How much energy must it have taken for him to do this day in and day out for three years. No rest for the weary.

I can scarcely imagine what that must have been like–it makes me tired simply thinking about it. At least when I finish a hard day of working, I have a place to come to, a home where I can relax and take a deep breath before getting up and starting all over again. Jesus was essentially a vagabond, a wandering teacher who went from one town to the next meeting the needs of the people in the local area. He said to his people the quote at the top of this post: essentially even the animals have some place to rest and call home, but he had no such luxury. No rest for the weary.

On this journey of 40 days I am taking intentional time to think about the life and the life work and spiritual journey of Jesus, thinking about the parallels I see in my own life. I whine that I am too tired to write my blog or have no energy to do anything when I get home from work except collapse on the sofa, eat dinner, watch the news and then go to bed. But when I think about what it must have been like to spend so many intense hours working with wounded, sick, and injured people healing them and making them whole, it makes my level of engagement feel much more manageable. And just to be perfectly clear, I am exceedingly grateful to have a place to lay my head. There is in fact rest for the weary; the key is to take it when it presents itself and make the best of it. And so it is.

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