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We who live in the city seem to have a stronger compulsion for work than people who live in rural areas. We love to work. Some of us even boast of being workaholics. We live by the philosophy that defines a person’s worth in terms of their work. Meaning, the more work, the more value; the less work, the less. We become guilty of being idle because the priest, in confession, tells us that idleness is the devil’s pillow. We want to be always preoccupied. We become uncomfortable with silence. There must be music or something to read. There must be something to work on. If there is nothing to work on, no music to listen to, or a book to read, we become jittery because we no longer know what to do with silence.

I know of a husband who tried very much to have silence in his life, a moment of doing nothing but nourishing the presence of God. The first time he did it, he went to the guestroom and sat quietly for 30 minutes, at peace with himself. After 30 minutes, his wife started knocking at the door. “Are you sick?” she asked. The husband said, “No.” The wife insisted, “Are you mad at me? Why are you mad at me? Why are you not sleeping in our room? Why are you alone in this room?” People become uncomfortable with silence. They become uneasy with solitude. We start to feel guilty when we want to rest.

I know of a mother who boasts that since she became a mother, she has not taken a vacation because, she says, she doesn’t need a vacation. I ask her children if it is true that their mommy does not need a vacation. “Maybe,” they answered, “but Mommy does not realize that sometimes, we need a vacation from her.” Sometimes we are afraid to rest because we are afraid to realize that even if we are away, the world will go on. Sometimes we are afraid to get away, resign, take a break, or take a leave because we are afraid that when we return, things will improve without us.

The Lord says, “Come and rest awhile.” There was so much work to do. People were just rushing to hear him. People were hungering for the word of God. And yet, the most practical and apostolic way to handle such a situation was to rest, to keep still in the presence of the Lord.

Some of us don’t want to take a vacation because we feel guilty about leaving so many things behind. We feel guilty that the children will not have somebody to care for them. We feel guilty that the Church will be left with nobody attending to it. We feel that we are abandoning our responsibility when we take a vacation. But the Lord also rested despite the great demands of the world.

Some of us may not feel guilty, but we feel uncomfortable, like that wife who did not like her husband to be by himself, in silence. If we do not feel guilty about solitude, we feel suspicious about people who go into solitude and rest. We say, “Those who rest are lazy people.” That resting is a sign of laziness.

To rest is not a sign of weakness. Rest is not limited to sick people and old people. Come to think of it; only the strong can rest awhile. Let us ask the Lord for the grace to slow down, to be comfortable with rest, to be comfortable with solitude because, in solitude, we are confronted with that small voice inside us that tells us God loves us.

Mt 11:28
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