Into his arms
Again I come to this room on the ground floor of a mall. In fact, I often do, towards lunchtime, after I have done with work.
The epithet they give the room is “customer service.” It has toilets and a lounge with tables and sofas, now occupied by a number of elderly people in different states of wakefulness, mouths open in a circle of different sizes, the largest betokening the deepest sleep. I merely note them, since I still have to write, and I know that soon I might join them, face similarly frozen with perhaps a bigger rictus.
To the number of slumbering people in this room I should include a baby, its little mouth open too, snug in the arms of its mother, likewise asleep.
Those who, like me, have chosen to resist somnolence read the papers and magazines displayed on a lowboy, or fiddle with their cell phones, or with their tablets or laptops.
We come here with only one thing in mind — to rest. By and large, one hies to the mall for a purpose, and if already the harassments of living do not distress, and to the harassments include the rhythm of bodily needs, the moving about from shop to shop and endless checking of purchases and directionless walking along well-lighted corridors and mindless riding up and down of escalators could exhaust even the healthiest mall rat, who like a true rodent will soon look for a watering hole, such as a restaurant or a coffee shop, in order to sit back and relax.
One needs to slow down, both in body and spirit. At home I put my feet up and listen to music, occasionally with a bottle of beer shared with the wife. One needs to reduce the noise, both outer and inner.
And so I do not think it embarrassing if people see me making the Sign of the Cross. I reduce noise through prayer, and I exert effort, if I cannot go to a church or chapel, with the Blessed Sacrament exposed if possible, to have a moment of silence wherever I find myself, remembering the words of St.
Therese of Lisieux — “For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.”
Jesus recognized this need in us to ease up and unbend, to slack off, sit back and take it easy. “Come to me, all you who labor and are overburdened, and I will give you rest. Shoulder my yoke and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Yes, my yoke is easy and my burden light.”
When I contemplate this, I especially think of the washerwoman who had to feed the children of her son now doing time in jail, who showed the little ones to me after I convicted him of human trafficking, and whom I helped with a little amount, even though the assistance could not remove the lump in my throat. She would surely find comfort in Jesus’ invitation. I can think of many others; in fact, I can think of all of us, because which of us does not carry somewhere in the soul a weight of this or the other type, and does not need a room or place, or someone, to unburden?
Find your place of rest in me, Jesus says in effect in the passage from Matthew, when he bids us to come to and have a breather in him.
In fact, more than place, more than the customer service lounge of the mall, which only allows for a modicum of physical and mental relaxation, one needs someone, especially when one gets befogged by what happens to the world and to oneself — a crushing burden by any standard, which one has no choice but to carry, but from which, if one only has the humility and courage, one finds relief in acceptance, in turning to the Lord and his promise.
Indeed, as Martin Buber said, “The world is not comprehensible, but it is embraceable — through the embracing of one of its beings.”
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