Let nothing disturb you;
Let nothing make you afraid
All things pass;
But God is unchanging,
Patience is enough for everything.
You who have God lack nothing.
God alone is sufficient.
~Teresa of Avila

The ancient song writer sings, My soul finds rest in God alone (Psalm 62:1). That’s a pretty good way to start the day. In fact, that’s exactly how the Hebrew people viewed the beginning of the day, in sleep. For the faithful Hebrew, the “day” begins with sundown, evening, then night and sleep. Halfway through the “day” we awake refreshed, ready to begin our labor. We close the day at the end of our labor, having received food and refreshment from time with people we love. Then we begin the cycle all over again by simply laying our heads upon a pillow as the new day begins.

Of course the incandescent light, modern marketing, 24-hour grocery stores and our incessant need to be perpetually busy has messed with this ancient rhythm. Have you ever felt in need of slowing down? Does your busy pace of life wear you down? Try taking a sabbatical. I took my first sabbatical several years ago, a three month leave to rest and rejuvenate my mind and soul. It doesn’t have to be a three-month paid leave of absence from your job. A day-long sabbatical is a grand gift if you can swing such a thing. Try breaking off a smaller piece the fresh baked bread of sabbatical rest. Break off a little piece by beginning your morning with a few slow breaths as you recite those ancient song lyrics, “My soul finds rest in God alone, my rescue comes from him.”

Many demands and distractions will continue to knock on the door of our secret garden, that space within our soul set aside for spiritual refreshment. Daily we make choices to listen to those demands or ignore them for the few minutes of quiet and trust anew in the one voice, the Voice of the Shepherd of our souls.

In spite of my ongoing struggle with the many anxieties and distractions in this life, the simple words of Teresa of Avila from five hundred years ago comfort me, helping my soul fly like a dove flying across the ocean, coming to rest once again in quietness and trust at that peaceful island home in the presence of the living God.

The poem by Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) was found as a bookmark in her prayerbook after her death.