Lately, I haven’t been able to get these words out of my head:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
I write Matthew 11:28-30 on a piece of scratch paper and stick it to the wall of my office. Like the zombie I feel like I am right now, I proceed to stare at the words. I suppose it’s my own feeble attempt at a gooey, grace-filled kind of holy magic, but really, I just want the words to burst healing power from the paper in a literal, evangelical, personal Jesus sort of way.
I want an injection of rest. I want a Holy Spirit filling of the free and light life. I want the heaviness and the weight of today (and of this season, and of this year) to be lifted from my already-burdened, tired and sore shoulders.
Instead, I feel a whole lot of nothing and the tiredness of this moment overwhelms me.
But then, a paper bag of pears left on the front porch.
A copy of one of my favorite books, by one of my favorite authors, sent to me in the mail.
A “just checking in on you” text, a yogurt container of homegrown cherry tomatoes, an unexpected hug.
Could this kindness be the care, the rest, the recovery I was looking for all along? Could this kindness be the Christ?
Chances are, if you’re a human living in the world today, this year hasn’t been the easiest one on record. Perhaps like you, I often joke that I motion to strike 2020 from the history books – after all, when a global pandemic and subsequent quarantine orders take root, when hunger strikes 1.5 million Americans in New York City alone, when one in seven small businesses have been forced to close their doors (and an average of one independent bookstores calls it quits weekly), when civil unrest becomes our common cry, when children can’t go back to school, and when the upcoming election feels more vitriolic and divisive than ever before, exhaustion sets in.
Ambiguous grief sets in.
Sadness and loneliness, isolation and weariness, anger and apathy set in.
My natural response, of course, is not to engage more and be more and rally the troops more. Instead, my natural response is to turn off, run for the hills and bury myself in soup (in the sense that homemade, chock-full-of-veggies soup really can heal the most woeful of ailments). I tend not to post on social media, and when I’m of sound mind, I step away from the screen altogether.
But then, I think about how a little bit of kindness goes a long way. I think about how that bag of pears brought a smile to my face and how that unexpected hug was just what the doctor ordered.
After all, maybe what we need is a little more kindness and a little less madness.
Because maybe this is how we take a real rest and really learn those unforced rhythms of grace.
And maybe, ultimately, eventually, this is how we recover our lives.
My friends, it’s been awhile since I’ve written here. Due to a California state law (which I’m not going to get into right now), I wasn’t allowed to write on my Patheos blog anymore. But the law has been rescinded and I can connect with you, here in this space again! So, tell me: what does a little more kindness and a little less madness look like to you?
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