Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Resting In the Everlasting Arms?

“True silence is the rest of the mind; and is to the spirit, what sleep is to the body, nourishment and refreshment.” That’s what William Penn said centuries ago. Many Americans think that the picture on the Quaker Oats box is a portrait of William Penn, for whom Pennsylvania was named. Except it’s not and it wasn’t. Pennsylvania was named for William’s father and nobody know who the man on the oats box is.

William Penn was one of the first Friends. There are times that I think that he wrote the above quotation after seeing Friends snoring softly in Meeting. If, so, he’s not the only one. Benjamin Franklin (who many people think was a Quaker because he dressed funny) writes about this happening on his first visit to Philadelphia. “…[I] walked again up the street, which by this time had many clean-dressed people in it, who were all walking the same way. I joined them, and thereby was led into the great meeting-house of the Quakers near the market. I sat down among them, and, after looking round awhile and hearing nothing said, being very drowsy thro’ labor and want of rest the preceding night, I fell fast asleep, and continued so till the meeting broke up, when one was kind enough to rouse me. This was, therefore, the first house I was in, or slept in, in Philadelphia.”

In spite of that occurrence, which was not unique to Franklin, Penn probably had Jesus’ statement in mind – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Who among us – mother, father, co-worker, boss – is not weary and burdened? Whose soul doesn’t need nourishment and refreshment? Words and phrases like burnout, chronic fatigue syndrome, stressed out, fill our conversations. Silence invites us to rest in God’s loving care, a loving care so restful that some fall asleep.

Need some rest?

-- Brent

1 comment:

David Carl said...

I recall reading something by George Fox railing against sleeping in meeting. I've nodded off a few times in the past 11 years. I suppose if we need the sleep, its alright, but I ususally feel I've "wasted" my worship time when I do.