When I lived at home and had gotten my driver’s license, I signed up for a Holy Hour at a local chapel adjoining the church my family sometimes went to for daily Mass. I was throwing myself at Jesus at the time and it was a great way to get some privacy to focus on him and beg him to answer me. I filled pages and pages of my journal. And I truly did feel a sort of peace there.
It was the candles, it was the quiet, it was the solitude—I was usually alone. And maybe Jesus had something to do with it too. But whatever the reason, I found a peace I could never find in my bedroom, where I spent so many hours crying, sinning, agonizing over my sins, agonizing over how to make my life better and my family more harmonious….
He shall banish the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem; the warrior’s bow shall be banished, and he shall proclaim peace to the nations.
In college, I rarely committed to a Holy Hour but I still went now and again. When I was in Austria, studying abroad, my boyfriend and I decided on a time when we could both be in the Adoration Chapel, even though he was in a completely different time zone. And when he went to Austria, we did it again. I don’t believe that I ever experienced clarity of thought, emotion, or spirit by going to Adoration—I can’t say that Adoration improved my life once I stepped out of the chapel.
Except that it gave me a pleasurable peace inside me. It was in those moments that I resolved to go on doing what I thought was right; it was in those moments that I knowingly chose—although I had no other options—to return to the emptiness of my life.
Was it peace that I felt or was it only resignation? Was it a false sense of power, of control over, of direction in my life?
Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.
-Matthew 11: 28-30
My God, my brother, he proclaims that if I take up his yoke and learn from him, I will find rest. His burden is light. What is this burden? Can I have it? I’ll trade ya, Jesus.
Matthew doesn’t waste time on the details in chapter 11—it’s like he couldn’t remember what the hey they were all doing that week, but Jesus said something about carrying a burden at some point so let’s write that down.
What on earth (quite literally, really) is rest, according to Jesus? He doesn’t promise where or when the resting will be; is this, like, the fine print of the Bible? Asterisk! “Rest not guaranteed at any point in time during life in earthly flesh.”
Are we Jesus’ oxen, pulling a light cart? I don’t know. I feel more like the lost sheep. Indeed, my most often repeated prayer these days is this: “If you want me, come find me.”
I haven’t yet dared speculate about the consequences of this prayer. It’s the only one left in me.
Elizabeth Kelleher is a rambler and a nature lover. She currently lives in the deep south, teaches in a Catholic high school, and attempts to find God.