Today is a retreat day for the Brothers. Retreat has a lot in common with Sabbath rest: laying aside work, giving priority to prayer, resting in solitude. “Come unto me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest,” Jesus says [Matthew 11:28]. “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you,” says St. Augustine. And for Paul, the Sabbath, the Jewish day of rest, is but a foreshadowing of Christ—“the substance belongs to Christ” [Colossians 2:17]. Christ is, himself, the substance of Sabbath: he is our rest, our resting place, the one in whom we find our true rest.
According to an ancient saying, “a monk is separated from all and united to all”. [Evagrius Ponticus] In solitude, especially in the solitude of retreat, in our separation from ordinary tasks and interactions, we can follow our hearts as they find their rest in Christ. There is restlessness at our core that wants to find its way to Christ, to the very source of our being, to the very well of life. The heart searches out the water brooks at the very source of life.
We may find our way there in solitude, but then find we are not alone. As God is closer to us than our own breath, so is everything else: all that is, all that ever was, and all that ever shall be. It is in resting in Christ that we discover our affinity, our kinship with all of God’s creation: with all things animate and inanimate, from the smallest to the largest, from the nearest to the farthest; with all generative energies that both create the world and differentiate one thing from another thing.
“He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” [Colossians 1:17] We are held together, held together with all things, in Christ, in the bosom of the Father. Rest in him—and rest in the benevolence that holds all things together.
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