Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, 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)
What is this prayer of quiet, or repose, or rest, of which we hear whispers? Why is my life not rest, but a battle, a struggle, a pain of childbirth? How can I enter into that land of rest?
Battle is the result when two sides have competing desires and no agreement is possible. Ownership of land or possessions. Power. Knowledge. Wealth. Dominion. Life.
The struggle is not primarily with the other people but with the king. If that king’s goals and desires conflict with yours, there will be strife.
If it is a good king, and if he loves the people and seeks the good for the people, he will bring prosperity for his people. Oh, there may be a few who resist the king’s governance, but they are under control.
Those who agree with the king will have the same desires and goals. Both sides seek the good for all. They respect each other, and cooperate, and come to love each other, and become one team. There will be peace.
Peace with God comes through union of wills. You are at peace when you love what God loves and desire what God desires. Then there is no conflict, there is cooperation and partnership and unity.
This peace, this unity, comes when you desire what God desires. The battles come from your desires that are different from what God desires. Do you seek joy in owning or experiencing things? Do you look for security by attempting to control the world around you? Do you find pleasure in people thinking well of you? Then you are at war with God; there is no peace. Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.
But when you have thrown your lot in with the good king and are on the same side, when you take his yoke upon you, you will find rest for your soul.
In the prayer of quiet, your will is entirely captured by God. You love what God loves and desire what God desires. Vehemently. Your sense and imagination and reason may still run free, but your heart is captive. You know the life, light, and love of the triune God and are swept away. There is joy.
The posts "Wide and narrow" and "Spirituality of St. John of the Cross" had a poem, Joy, that summarizes a poem of St. John of the Cross on the spiritual life. Meditate on this:
Desire enjoyment in nothing,
Nor knowing nor having nor being,
To come to enjoyment in all things,
To living and loving and seeing.
Greg Scheer, friend and composer and co-conspirator in founding Hymnary.org, set it to music.
"Joy" text: public domain