My soul needs rest. It is not weary from being wounded; from those arrows it merely feels the inflicted pain and bears healing scars that eventually fade away. No, my soul needs rest from constantly putting out while not taking in enough. To be sure I am to blame for this imbalance: it is every true Christian’s task to provide soul sustenance for their own life-walk and personal growth. But I have this tendency to run ahead of myself. Thus, the need for soul rest.
Three places where I find my soul rests are at a Lakehouse on Newfound Lake in New Hampshire, on top of Pikes Peak (14,115’), and at Jenny Lake, in Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming. In Wyoming I breathe easier; my heart-beat slows. On Pikes Peak, near our home in Colorado, I am alone with God. I am invigorated! In New Hampshire I sit on the lake-dock and watch ducks land, studying the intricacies within the ripples of the water as the wind blows across its surface.
I need to get to these places more often.
Your soul probably needs rest as well. The hectic pace of our lives, whether urban or rural, has grown much more frantic since the industrial revolution of the late 19th century— more so in these early decades of the 21st century. Much of the machinery and technology designed to make our lives easier has not made them simpler. We are a more complex species today than when we entered the 20th century. There will be, to be sure, more discoveries and technological inventions in the future that will again make our lives “easier.” But will we have any more time to spend with friends, family, or even God? Will we be able to take the time we need to provide the kind of rest our souls will need to stand up to the challenges of this new cultural shift?
Defining Soul Rest
Before you jump to your feet and yell, “It’s simple! You just need to stop! Get alone and rest. Your soul will follow suit.” allow me to describe some of the factors you might want to consider.
- Is soul rest for an Introvert the same as it would be for an Extrovert?
- Is soul rest easier for a Type A (organized, controlled) or a Type B (more relaxed, flexible) person? And what about a Type C person (combination)?
- How do you know if you are genuinely resting or merely following someone else’s formula? (A Spiritual Director’s prescription.)
- How long does it take to get to soul rest?
- When will you know you have had enough?
Hopefully, these peripheral considerations have demolished any simplistic view of soul rest you may have held. Finding rest for your soul is no simple matter. And these peripheral considerations become more central to our definition than is immediately apparent. Your personality and temperament have more to do with your soul than you might imagine.
Returning to the task at hand, defining soul rest. Well, at least MY Definition—
Soul Rest: 1) the complete relaxation of the soul; resulting in the cessation of struggle and conflict within; 2) a coming apart from daily activities to a quiet place for reflection, refreshment, and rest; 3) any activity which provides one’s soul with a release from this world’s worries and cares— any activity that first rests one’s soul, then enlivens it.
A definition such as this leaves considerable open-endedness to the mind and much to be desired. Let’s unpack it. Read on.
Honour God, honour people, make a difference,
Dr. Gary Davis, President
NEXT— Solutions— part 2, Unpacking Soul Rest.