“Time for la sieste!” The lilting French voice floated to me through the stairwell.
“Okay, just a minute!” I called back in my best French, eyeing the stack of paper sitting before me.
It was summer break during college, and I was living my dream internship—an American in Paris, staying in a house with consecrated women to help them prepare for and run a girls’ camp in the French Alps.
I’ll just finish cutting this stack of craft paper, I thought.
The voice came again, a little sharper. “It’s time now,” she told me. Chagrined, I scurried to the courtyard, where the rest of the women gathered around the table, talking and laughing between espresso and bon-bons.
My young American mind tried to wrap itself around the irony: being told I was late—not for a meeting, but to take an hour-long break! It was almost comical. But on that first day, and every day thereafter, I began to understand the value of this prioritized rest. Each afternoon we took our mandated rest in the courtyard. In the mountains with the girls, we sat on the wide deck of the chalet sipping double shots while the girls rested in their rooms (and ran between the balconies, peals of laughter echoing through the alpine valley). It was a fixed part of the daily routine, regardless of how much work was waiting. Yet somehow, the work still got done—and with less stress to boot.
As I read today’s Gospel, the nostalgia of la sieste playing at the corners of my mind, I wonder whether God’s not trying to give me—maybe you, too—a hint. How often do we set down our work, unfinished as it may be, simply to find rest? How often do we suffer through Martha moments with grumbling and frustration, feeling burdened that we simply have to do it all—when it's actually in the Mary moments of resting in God that He can fill us with the strength and ability to go about His work? He knows our needs, and He knows self-care isn't selfish. God Himself rested from His work on the seventh day, resting in the joy of His Creation. When's the last time we did the same?
“Come to Me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Create a place in your day today for rest, sister, and invite God in.
Megan Hjelmstad is a wife and mom 24/7 and an Army Reservist in her “spare” time. She’s a bibliophile, tea drinker, sleep lover, and avid admirer of Colorado’s great outdoors. When the writing bug hits, you can find her a her blog here.