I am exhausted…

I think so many of us are.

We don’t even realize how tired we are from all the stress of this past year.

And then the events of Jan. 6th that happened at the Capitol in DC! On the Epiphany of Our Lord.

Exhausted ….

We so want to turn the calendar page and have all things be made new!

Yet there is this knowing that it isn’t true.

Yes, there is hope!

Yes, there is a vaccine.

Yes, we get a new president, new hope, new promise, on the 20th.

But we truly are exhausted.

Our bodies know it, even if our minds still cannot comprehend it.

Our souls know it too.

Our hearts are crying out for time to just be still.

To stop.

To breathe.

To be still and know that God is with us.

But it’s the new year and life is beginning again post-holiday breaks.

Today, as I prayed while I drove to and from work,

I prayed for all my friends who are parents who are starting a new semester with their kids …

Many online … again.

Many still all together day after day.

And I prayed for all my family and friends who are seniors, like myself.

For those who are in constant pain, for those who fear our future, for those who feel they are running on empty where hope and promise is concerned.

Exhausted.

We want to be with our family face to face, not struggling that we can’t be with them, that we miss our family, that family and friends cannot share in our sorrow and losses of the past year. I’m praying for healthcare workers of all sorts. The exhaustion they must feel, the frustration they alone know, the suffering only they see every day, while people “out there’ are still denying the reality and still arguing over masks.

It’s time to open another gift.

As I write this, it is the Feast of Epiphany, so gifts can continue in honor of the Magi.

I want us all to take a breath …

To pause …

To breathe …

To pause long enough to see the reality of our fatigue.

To realize that each of us are so much more than what we accomplish each day.

We are truly valuable, even if we never produce or do anything.

We are that treasure that God looks for in that field.

I would like us all to actually open the gift of rest, the gift of being still.

Not just look at the pretty packaging and the wouldn’t-it-be-nice ribbon around it. But turn off the phone, and put down the remote and open up to being still!

It’s been a very long year.

Our bodies, minds and souls need the space and time to heal.

What would it look like for you to actually open the gift of rest and stillness in 2021?

Even if you just took the lid off in January, what would that be like?

Could you give yourself permission to go to bed early?

Could you allow yourself a nap? Or a long bath?

Could you plan an afternoon away from the TV and the computer and even the phone?

Could rest and stillness become the spiritual practice you are looking for to help connect you back to Jesus this year?

Take a look at the package, the box the gift of stillness is in.

Notice there is a card on top.

Stop.

Don’t put the card aside for later and just rip open the package.

Open the card,

Read it … Wow there is a gift card just for you!

You (your name) are given permission to be still in 2021!

No pressure.

No performance.

No shame.

No way to do this wrong.

It’s a permission slip to allow you to be still, to know that God is with you, and to hear His still, small voice confirm this to you in 2021.

Stillness also needs a place on your calendar.

For me I’m re-upping my sabbath practice of turning off social media from Friday night to Sunday morning … we have church televised Mass on Sunday morning, followed by rest. I need the mental break from the news, comments, competition I often feel online and on TV.

Create a time … start with 15 minutes … you can do anything for 15 minutes. What would 15 minutes of real rest, quiet, stillness look like? Feel like?

Create a place … do you need a new pillow, a fluffy throw blanket, a new mug and some good tea to help you rest?

Or would new pens. Markers and a blank book help you rest?

Or a hammock if you can be outside where you live.

Just like every spiritual practice … rest, and being still with Jesus take practice …

Create your practice.

I didn’t grow up with rest as a practice.

Rest wasn’t a practice or a value it was all about performance. So, I have had to unlearn performance and really practice resting … stopping … receiving the gift Jesus, and in hearing Him speak to me in that stillness.

Help your kids learn to rest and be still. They can learn that it is a gift from God for them to open too.

Jesus never burned out. He did get tired and when He saw his disciples were tired from ministry, He got them away from the crowds and got them to seek rest.

(Often this rest got interrupted, and yours might too, but do not give up.)

And you may think you haven’t accomplished enough to rest, you may say, but “I’ve still got piles everywhere and decorations to put away and laundry to do” … put those thoughts away … remember Jesus’s invitation to experience the unforced rhythms of grace ….

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

You still can open the Gift of rest.

It is still for you from Jesus …

JoMarie Grinkiewicz is a member of Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Avon Park. GriefShare sessions will be conducted online via zoom beginning in February. If you are interested in registering, please contact JoMarie at jo.marie719@outlook.com.