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Rest & Restlessness

Some time ago, I learned that rest is our daily portion for the work we do for our Master. (This happened in the context of learning that even when our services are rendered out of obligation to authority, our loyalty to our ultimate master expresses itself in even that work which we do.) I forget quickly, and have gone so far as to forgo my portion in the past week.

Restlessness is a wretched state to be in. Tradition holds that restless spirits are restless because of a grievance yet to be redressed. They are victims of injustice waiting for the wrong to be righted. It is all rather dramatic (and at this point I should note that my acquaintance with ‘tradition’ is largely limited to Chinese soap operas on TV), but it is not far from the truth.

I think we are all waiting. We are aware of it more acutely at some times than others, and the rest of the time we are unaware I suppose activity and exhaustion suffice as distractions; but still we wait, and it is during those moments we become aware that the wish for an end to it manifests itself. We wish for peace, or fulfillment, and so we make an art of self-distraction and a principle of productivity.

But, inevitably, in life, on earth, we find ourselves waiting yet again after the latest round of having expended our mental and emotional efforts and having received our rates for them. One can conclude that waiting is a stable, if suboptimal, state, and also an appealing one since optimality appears implausibly difficult to achieve.

However, even in that stable state, we wait. Things are suboptimal, justice is not universal, hence struggle, hence war. What rest is there to be found that will not eventually be made merely a memory of rest the next day? The answer is that there is no rest on earth, and that we make our home elsewhere. That is our hope.

And it is therefore in hope that we partake of our daily portion of rest. It is for a lack of hope that I have been such a fool as to have had exchanged that for distraction. I pray for the strength to wait in hope.

Psalm 27:14: “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” (KJV)

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