Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Finding our Rest

Tonight as I put my daughter to bed, I realized again how wonderfully peaceful and holy it is to hold her while she sleeps. No matter how difficult a day we might have; no matter how frustrating it might be when she resists falling asleep, once she is at full rest, slumbering in my arms, there is an overwhelming sense of serenity. I find myself wishing she would hurry up and fall asleep but then being in no hurry to lay her down once she is asleep.

Tonight as I experienced this phenomenon, I recalled St. Augustine's reflection, "Our hearts are restless until they find their rest in you, O God". I have always thought of this image as a general reference to our need for God--the creature in need of union with its Creator. I have not considered the image in terms of sanctification or holiness. But tonight as I watched my daughter sleep in my arms, she was not only at peace, but she was also, if only temporarily, completely holy. She was not being selfish, she was not testing rules or her parents authority. She was deeply resting in the arms of one whom she trusted.

So often I have considered Christian growth in terms of increasing participation in justice ministries, turning from past sins, and going deeper in prayer and bible study. All of these things are clearly part of Christian growth, but they are all action based ways of thinking. I wonder if we are at times called simply to "sleep" in the arms of God--to "find our rest" in the one who created us.

A couple of years ago, I presided at a funeral of a parishioner. As I met with the family, one of the stories they told me was how his daughter always liked falling asleep in her father's arms. I retold the story at the beginning of the funeral, noting that there are few better places to be than resting in the arms of a loving father. At the end of the service, I referenced the story commenting that the deceased is "now resting in the arms of a Loving Father--and there is no better place to be."

As I reflect now on the holiness of my daughter sleeping in my arms, I wonder if resting in God's loving arms is a sanctifying moment. A moment where all of our sins melt away and God's love wells up for us as we lay limp and docile, fully trusting that the one who holds us will keep us from falling.

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