The blazing excitement and activities of the holiday season have come to an end in our home. Gazing out the window, one can see the dormant ground covered by a bitter, icy frost. There is a sweet stillness of contemplation inherent in the post-holiday season of winter.
After two weeks of vacation, my three teenage children think that 4pm is a good time to wake-up while 4am is bedtime. They would not do well living under a Benedictine monastery rule of life. However, I am gifted with my own silent retreat broken only by a hyper-active dog who has not gone for his walk in three weeks.
As a young mother I recall feeling “let-down” after all the excitement of Christmas was over. I was looking for something more. Yet, I could not name exactly what I was looking for. Was it more gifts, more intimacy, or a healthier extended family?
As a young person I was driven to accumulate and consume by moving from a small apartment to a larger one; then, into a small home followed by a larger one – adding one baby and then another to our family. This progression is typical for married life in the United States.
Today, I see more clearly. Just as nature has a dormant time of year where the garden is at rest, we too need a time to rest. As a young person, I failed to rest. After accomplishing one goal, I was quick to set my sights on the next adventure. I was bringing the world and new experiences into me. Today, the flow is reversed. I bring myself to the world.
Mornings like this are times of stillness and peace where the Great Creator comes to me to strengthen me. For several years of my life, I rejected this gift of rest. I was restless when I should have been resting. I was uncertain about what I had to offer others.
Time spent in contemplative prayer provides me the confidence to give of my true-self, as appropriate, then walk away knowing that I have enough. My giving is not dependent on other’s receptivity or on their ability to express gratitude. As a mother of teenagers, I would be very depressed if it was.
St. Augustine says, “My heart is restless until it find its rest in Thee.” St. Paul writes, “I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:12-13).
As professional women, there is earthly power in obtaining an education and employment. However, the strength to obtain such earthly power comes from the Lord. “I lift up my eyes to the hills – from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord who made the heaven and earth” (Psalm 121: 1-2). The power that sustains our lives can be accessed during times of prayer-filled rest.