Renew your spirit

Karen Pershall Harvester, HaysMed Chaplain
Karen Pershall Harvester

Most of us lead life at a very hectic pace. There are jobs, children or elderly parents who need us, meetings to attend, commitments within our communities and churches, and the list could go on and on. All of these responsibilities are important because we know that there are people who are counting on us to give our very best. Living through a pandemic has only increased the stress in our lives. Remote learning for our children, working from home, the wearing of masks in public places, and social distancing were not part of our daily lives just a year ago.   

However, this hectic pace, along with the changes, can drain us physically, emotionally, and spiritually. We are not meant to pursue such a relentless pace without times of rest and renewal. It is important to have time, each day if possible, to take a deep breath and quiet our minds.

Psalm 46:10 reminds us of God’s instruction, “Be still and know that I am God.” Each person is different in what provides rest and renewal for them. Some enjoy quiet time in the morning before beginning their day. I consider myself a night person and so I prefer a time of reflective reading and prayer just before I go to sleep.

Besides a daily routine, it is often helpful to go to a special place which provides peace and solitude. It might be a comfy chair in a quiet corner of your home, a spot in the backyard patio, or the back pew of a chapel.

Solitude in the beauty of nature can provide us with occasional opportunities for longer periods of rest. In my own life, anything involving water is soothing to my soul, whether it be swimming or sitting beside a lake or river. This Kansas girl thoroughly enjoys the rare opportunities of a few days by the ocean, just watching the waves crashing on the shore. The spiritual and eternal nature of water replenishes my parched soul. Of course, with travel restrictions due to the virus, it has been quite a while since I have last seen the ocean. However, I have a picture of the ocean taken several years ago along the coast of California. Just looking as the picture helps to calm my soul on stressful days. 

Is your spirit in need of rest and renewal? In readings from the gospels, we learn Jesus often withdrew to deserted places and prayed. There are at least twelve gospel references of Jesus seeking out some quiet time away from the crowds to pray. What an important example Jesus has provided to all of us! Even while doing the work of teaching and healing among the crowds that followed him, Jesus demonstrated that even he needed time to get away and renew his spirit. As we begin again our journey through Lent, may we all find peace and renewal in these uncertain times by following our Savior in prayer and silence before God.  

The Rev. Dr. Karen Pershall Harvester is the Supervisor of Pastoral Care at The University of Kansas Health System Hays Medical Center.