The Rev. Cynthia Taylor: Hold up your cup, dear child, for God to fill

A Prayer for One who is Tired, courtesy of Grace Noll Crowell: “Dear Heart, God does not say today, ‘Be strong!’ He knows your strength is spent, He knows how long the road has been, how weary you have grown: For He who walked the earthly roads alone, each bogging lowland and each long, steep hill, can understand, and so He says, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’

 

“The hour is late and you must rest awhile, and you must wait until life’s empty reservoirs fill up as slow rain fills an empty, upturned cup. Hold up your cup, dear child, for God to fill, He only asks today that you be still.”

For me, this is the proper prayer for the looming Labor Day observance – not an ode to work but a prayer of ceasing from our labors, of counting the cost of our productivity. It seems too many of us were raised in the John Wayne School of Theology: When the going gets tough, the tough keep going and going and going until all the joy of life has been drained from you and you’ve been sucked dry.

Summer isn’t quite over but I’m already seeing signs of stress from those who are going back to their regular routines. If Facebook and Instagram are any indication the excitement over the start of the school year is already being subsumed by the anxiety of how to do everything that needs to get done.

That is so at odds with what Jesus told us in John’s gospel: “I am the door; if any one enters by me, they will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

It’s time to take stock of what we have really bought into – the abundant schedule, not the abundant life. What are the thieves in your life that are creeping in and slowing stealing away your life, destroying what you truly value? The 1970’s ballad, Big Yellow Taxi still rings true: “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got til its gone, they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”

What’s been paved over in your life that really needs to be set free? What is your prayer for the one who is tired? Keep that thought on the front burner while I add in these other thoughts for spice: A 2011 CNN story on America and Labor Day had this assessment: “Let’s be blunt: If you like to take lots of vacation, the United States is not the place to work. Besides a handful of national holidays, the typical American worker bee gets two or three precious weeks off out of a whole year to relax and see the world — much less than what people in many other countries receive.”

Some companies don’t like employees taking off more than one week at a time. Others expect them to be on call or check their e-mail even when they’re at the beach or hiking in the mountains.

So, before summer totally slips away keep in mind how it felt to be at play. To play in the sand or mud. Play with your kids or play with your dogs or laugh at your cats (who you know are always laughing at you). Play in the field of the Lord, knowing you are safe, being watched over by a shepherd who has your back, who loves you more than his own life. Trust that shepherd to know when you need to be pushed and when you need to rest.

What is it about the abundant life that Jesus offers us that is missing from your own life? What would you like to change? One of the things about being a parish priest is that I have lots – and lots – of people suggesting how I can change. But I do listen for that word of wisdom that can come through others and I’m always listening for Jesus calling.

You are never too young or too old to change, to learn, to grow in knowledge of yourself and knowledge of the Jesus who already knows you. But first, rest from your labors and breathe in the spirit of Christ.

“The hour is late and you must rest awhile, and you must wait until life’s empty reservoirs fill up as slow rain fills an empty, upturned cup. Hold up your cup, dear child, for God to fill, He only asks today that you be still.”

The Rev. Cynthia Taylor is the pastor of the Church of the Holy Comforter in Martinez.

 

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