Friday, March 30, 2012

Give me a break!

Isaiah 42:1-25 

"Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law. Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: ..."

This week, I attended a staff retreat.  We went out to Montserrat retreat center on lake Lewisville and listened to the insight of Clair Wing who designs liturgical art glass.  If you're interested to see more about what she does, please see her website at  She made an observation I never really thought about and it comes from the simple word - Restaurant.

Restaurant is a french word which means "food that restores".  It comes from the noun restaurer which means to restore or refresh.  Taking this a little deeper, we are hungry and so we go to a restaurant where we are nourished and refreshed.  When we relate this to our spiritual lives, we can see a connection between the Catholic mass, receiving the sacraments and being restored.  The Sacrament of the Eucharist is our spiritual food - our nourishment.  The sacrament of reconciliation frees us of our bondage, guilt and shame of sin and restores us to a newness.  The cleansing attributes of these sacraments are an incredible gift to us as Catholics.  It is all perception of the beholder - either you can see these as "mandatory obligations or as opportunities to be restored. 

To be restored to new faith is something we're all called to do.  "Keep holy the sabbath" is not a commandment because God wanted to give us more rules to follow...  It is God's way of saying "Take a break!"  Our bodies and our souls need a break!  At the retreat, Claire showed a 10 minute powerpoint with several images of the city, of a busy life, of people rushing around trying to go from point a to point b.  With each picture, I could feel my anxiety rise.  I could relate this to my every day life of going from task to task trying to complete the list.  I sprint home and help clean and put our son to bed.  After that, we unload our frustrations of the day and try to have at least an hour together in relaxation.  As great as that hour is, it's at that break even point where we're more rested then we were that evening after work, but we're still not refreshed and ready to take on the world. 

After all the pictures of city life cycled through, it began to show pictures of the outside, of nature where everything has a slow and methodical pace.  I thought back to my days of being on the ranch and swinging on that porch swing.  there was absolutely nothing else to worry about.  There were no cares in the world.  I didn't have to rush around 100mph just to catch up to where I needed to be.  Life and everything in it was a little bit slower allowing me to clearly see the world around me.  I realized exactly what I was missing from our life - the ability to slow things down to a reasonable pace. 

I spent this entire week thinking of ways to do that.  Maybe it's an hour of adoration in front of the blessed sacrament.  Maybe it's a monthly retreat to a lake house, or a guest ranch.  I'd love to have the means to purchase 20 acres and a 1 bedroom cabin somewhere, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.  Maybe someone will offer their lake house to us for a weekend - who knows....  But what I do know is that God is constantly working to restore us.  Sometimes we listen and sometimes we just keep on going without taking a break.  Our Lord is calling us to be restored - not in the world but in Him. 

As we approach Holy week beginning with Palm Sunday, and moving into Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday - recognize Jesus Christ's merits on the cross and how they are bringing us to new life in the resurrection.  In his own example, He was raised on the 3rd day and was restored.  He appears to the disciples and fills them with the gifts of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost calling them to disperse amongst the nations and preach the good news.  Here we see the full circle -
Anxiety - Last supper
Brokenness - Crucifixion
Restoration - Resurrection & Pentecost
Change - The disciples spreading the good word. 

Walk through this process with Jesus on this Holiest week of the year.  Be renewed and restored with him, and seek a life of change to the betterment of our lives and the lives around us.  Come and be fed by the spirit and become the hands and feet of Christ in our midst.  In the mean time, find a way to take a break - you probably need it!

1 comment:

  1. You are exactly right Mark, we need a break from everything! Jesus is our main priority but when we become so stressed out with our families, friends, sports, ourselves, and life in general, Jesus is put on the back burner. The sacraments restore us in every aspect, giving us gifts that nourish our bodies and free us from shame, but when our life is so stressed out we don't yearn for these gifts. We go to church and accept them but we don't really understand the power they have on our lives. I think that people need more break times to be with the Lord and just talk to him about the stress you have in your life. After talking with him you will find much relief, a weight that gets lifted off your shoulders. He has the power to do that--to refresh our bodies. Just take time to slow your life down and think about all the magnificent blessings we receive each day from our Lord!