JONES: A New Year’s Resolution: Take some spiritual rest

January 25, 2022

As I gaze out the window trying to be inspired in writing this column, I notice how winter has slowed nature down. Trees have dropped their leaves; the grass has lost its vibrant green to a drab brown, and the days are shorter.

At first glance, it appears nature is dying, but looks can be deceiving. The increase in dark hours is there for nature to rest. In winter, there is a stillness in nature. “To everything, there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1), and winter is the divine’s appointed time for rest.

After the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, one would think that we would look forward to slowing down. But, sadly, that reality is not part of our American culture. We are pushed to experience more, do more, consume more, work more, everything more, more, more! All the health experts reiterate that our bodies regenerate when we rest. We hear that we should get eight hours of sleep.

When we are ill, we are instructed to get plenty of sleep. Yet, we push ourselves, resisting winter’s call for rest.

Humans, like animals and trees, need a winter’s quiescence to recharge. What if we follow the rules of nature and take time to rest, to be still? While we know that physical self-care directly affects our body and that mental self-care takes care of our mind, we must not forget that spiritual self-care focuses on caring for our soul.

What if, along with our New Year’s resolution to diet, exercise and lose weight, we also concentrate on our spiritual health?

Some suggestions for spiritual self-care are to practice meditation or contemplation, spend time in nature, practice silence, go on retreat, begin journaling, find a spiritual director, unplug from technology, and learn/practice a new prayer form.

Psalm 46:10 reads, “Be still and know that I am God.” The word “still” is translated from the Hebrew word “rapa” which also means “to slacken, let down, or cease.” Many Christians interpret the command to “be still” as to quietly be in God’s presence.

What if we also slacken our grip on our need to control and allow God to take charge? What if we let down our defenses and trust that God will care for us? We need to cease or stop our need for the “more” and our need to take control. As the saying goes, “let go and let God.” God knew that we needed rest. Hence, biblically he set aside the seventh day to rest.

This seventh day of creation — this day of rest — makes us part of God’s family. If we did not have this divine plan for rest, we risk entering a relationship with God as one of master and slave.

We should take advantage of God’s plan of rest for us. This winter, take time from “doing” and allow yourself to just “be.” Allow yourself the time to rest spiritually. Practice spiritual self-help and take time to be still and know God. †

Deborah Jones is an associate director with the Office of Evangelization and Catechesis.