Our last word of this “Encouraging Word” series is respite.
Merriam-Webster describes respite as: “a period of temporary delay; an interval of rest or relief…”
The other day I started my walk a little earlier because I had a full day ahead. Our week has been hot and muggy, but at 6:00 there was a refreshing coolness still lingering. I enthusiastically ventured out, breathing in the crisp morning air and enjoying the cozy warmth of my soft sweatshirt. The sun created long shadows across the lawns with its perfect golden-yellow light. Birds seemed to be relishing the coolness, too, as they chased and ate and sang. A gentleman from the neighborhood raised his coffee mug to greet me as I passed by.
It was one of those moments when all was right with the world.
I thanked God for that time, an hour when I felt nothing but joy and gratitude. I could now face my day- and the personal concerns within my day, and my worries for the world in recent days- feeling sustained and uplifted with renewed faith. The heaviness of these months becomes more bearable when we are buoyed by these precious, glorious moments of respite.
I wonder if sometimes we make the idea of finding respite harder than it is. By its definition, respite is only a temporary escape, an “interval of rest or relief” in the midst of our burdens or situations. Certainly we are blessed when we are able to have days away, or vacations, or sabbaticals; but these small moments of respite can offer refreshment, clarity, peace and rest during our busiest schedules. When we cannot completely escape our worries and responsibilities, a few minutes of respite provide nourishing pauses for the long haul.
Jesus gives us an example of this in Mark 6. He invites the disciples to come away and rest, but pauses only for a moment because the people need him…
The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognized them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. Mark 6:30-34 (NIV)
Jesus doesn’t seek a month-long leave of absence. He uses each available moment for quiet rest before continuing to love, heal, teach and serve- so many people!
Whatever nourishes us can serve as a respite for our souls. Respite doesn’t need to be stillness. When I grow numb from writing, I find new creativity by doing a simple task or craft project. Respite can be found in doing artwork, reading, gardening, movie watching, playing sports. Any activity that takes us from the burdens or challenges that weigh us down can serve as a source of respite.
Respite moments can be-
A few minutes of rest for an overloaded schedule.
A few minutes of silence for a mind cluttered by noise.
A few minutes of stretching for a long day at the desk.
A few minutes of conversation for a troubled and introspective soul.
A few minutes of meditation for confused and muddled thoughts.
A few minutes of prayer for a worried countenance.
A few minutes of peaceful music for a grieving heart.
Respite times can replenish us, calm us, invigorate us, center us, strengthen us, and connect us with the One who helps the most. What might you need a respite from today?
“Don’t respite for the right time… halt for the moment.” ~Subhradeep Santra
This prayer by Dr. Mark Rowe on Thrive Global is a perfect one for our days, for this time…
As a medical doctor working at the frontline of this pandemic here in Ireland, I would like to share a poem I wrote. Stay safe and stay strong this too shall pass.
May the breath of your soul be your wisdom guide,
May the beacon of your soul bring respite inside;
May you bring presence to all that you do,
May care and compassion be that which is you;
May you have the gift of wisdom and staying awake,
May each dawn bring new promise not to forsake;
And dusk find you grateful for the helter-skelter
May night bring serenity and security of shelter;
As day turns to night, and month turns to year,
May the passing of time bring you no fear;
Each day you toil, as life’s depths take their toll,
May love and light bring breath to your soul.1
God bless you and keep you!
Definition of respite found at merriam-webster.com
Bible verses from BibleGateway.com
Quote by Subhradeep Santra found on Pinterest.com
Photo by Karen on the morning of her respite walk.