Most of us are more than weary. Cara Meredith nudges us to discover where we can find true rest.
By Cara Meredith
The whole scene felt a little surreal to me: instead of speaking in real-time to a room full of women, I lounged in my slippers and yoga pants at home, trying my hardest to stare into the pinhole camera at the top of my computer screen instead of at my own tired, bedraggled face. Glancing at my notes, at my Bible and then to the stack of books beside me,I wondered if the humans on the other side of the screen felt like I did - exhausted, worn out, and in desperate need of a break.
Perhaps the invitation is to let yourself rest and be, I said into the camera. Maybe right now is not a call to do or produce, but simply to lay down and be with God - to free yourself from checking off that to-do list, to not pressure yourself to write the next Great American Novel during this season of being mostly, entirely, always at home.
I nodded my head, first to the screen and then to myself. Was this part of the talk actually written just for me? Funny how that sometimes happens.
Perhaps like you, in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus, my family and I have been at home, abiding to the state's "shelter in place" mandate - as has nearly everyone else in the country now, including the churches, conferences and organizations that had previously invited me to preach and speak. My husband's job is now entirely remote, too, so during the week, he holes up in the makeshift laundry-room-turned-office, daily loads of laundry a thing of the past. Our young sons, ages five and seven respectively, have helped Teacher Mama transform the dining room into a classroom, complete with white board, learning books and a host of pens and markers, crayons and pencils.
The boys and I follow a hybrid schedule of sorts, fusing assignments from their public-school teachers alongside the realities of learning from home. No longer is "home" merely a place to return to after being away, nor is it solely the place of rest and play, but it's their everything - our everything - now. And in this place of home being everything, when our emotions span the scale of grief, we find that we cannot do it all.
Sometimes my sons cannot complete their assignments because they just need me to be their mama and not their teacher. Sometimes I cannot be the writer I call myself because I'm tired from wearing too many hats; when I finally have the chance to sit down and enter into a creative space, a wild kind of exhaustion comes over me.
I'm tired, plain and simple, so I do the only thing I can do and offer myself a single directive: rest, dear one.
It's here that I'm brought back to the scene in my office, when I extended to myself and the women on the other side of the screen an invitation to rest.
If it's true that our souls find rest in God alone, I said to the pinhole camera, then maybe the greatest thing we can do for ourselves, our loved ones, and the world around us, is to really, actually lean into rest.
I let the words of Psalm 62:1 echo through my mind and finish the video recording: "Truly my soul finds rest in God; my salvation comes from him." I give the psalmist's thoughts room to breathe and make room in my soul. I rid myself of the need to constantly do and produce and achieve.
I lay down on my bed.
I close my eyes.
Cara Meredith is a writer, speaker and conversationalist from the San Francisco Bay Area. She is the author of The Color of Life,a spiritual memoir about her journey as a white woman into issues of justice, race and privilege. She holds a Masters in Theology from Fuller. You can connect with her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and on her website, carameredith.com.