ultimate remedy for stress
all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give “ you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” Take a moment to be still. Sit in silence. Relax. Be aware of your breathing. Chances are you don’t get the chance to be silent and still very often. Take another moment to breathe some more. Let your breathing deepen. Yawn a couple of times. (This bonus of oxygen is good for the whole body). Relax. Life is busy. There are many demands made on us. People speak of ‘stress’ as a ‘normal’ and unavoidable part of modern life. But stress is never the result of being too busy. Stress is not caused by overwork or by saying yes to too much. Instead overwork and busyness are motivated by something else. There is something deeper going on. Stress is always the consequence of loss of perspective. I invited you to sit in stillness, breathe and relax, not simply to give you a break. I was really inviting you to prayer. And prayer is not simply about sitting still and relaxing. In the stillness of prayer it is impossible to avoid our anxiety and worry. Our struggles and difficulties flood into our minds. This is not a problem. Instead this is the path of entry into prayer. The burdens we carry are a part of the reality of earthly human life. But they are only a part. There is a greater reality. Take a moment to call to mind something you were worried about twelve months ago or twelve years ago. Do you still carry this burden of anxiety today? Did your worry back then help to resolve the concern? In prayer we are not seeking just a few moments reprieve from the burdens of life. Instead, we are bringing our labour and burden to God. In this place of prayer we give God our concerns, and God lifts this yoke from our shoulders. We become aware again that human happiness is not a human achievement reached by resolving our problems and overcoming our enemies. This is hard work and rarely successful. The rest we seek is a gift of God. We receive this gift whenever we realise the depth and power of God’s love for us. We have nothing to fear. In life’s greatest struggles and burdens, God is carrying us. Our human happiness is found when we relax in this living embrace.
As Jesus invites us in today’s Gospel: “come to me, all you who labour and are burdened, and I will give you rest.