By Andy Costigan
I love my job--really, my vocation. Serving as a campus minister for and with college students energizes me, brings me immense joy, and gives my life a deeper sense of purpose. And yet, in ways, it is exhausting: there are long hours, intense conversations, and the constant ups and downs of journeying with young people through the pivotal moments of emerging adulthood. Even with as much as I love my ministry, I don’t know if I could manage the intensity of the school year without the calming rest of summer.
And for me, the true joy summer--more than endless sunshine, barbecues, and being able to wear shorts everyday--is rest.
Not the “I’m completely exhausted and am going to try to sleep for four hours before continuing my to-do list of 497 things” rest that characterizes my school year, but genuinely rejuvenating rest. This is the opportunity to actually live in a restful manner, to proceed through my days at a restful pace. A true “soul rest.”
This is the blessing Jesus offers us in today’s Gospel: “you will find rest for yourselves.” If we can put aside our busyness or our worries and slow down long enough to notice and reach out to God, we will receive this soul rest that reaches to the depths of our needs.
And yet, oddly, for as much as we may crave this rest, it doesn’t necessarily come easily.
Even this summer, it took me a while to slow myself down enough to enter into a restful state. In so many ways, this notion of rest is counter-cultural. Societal norms tell us to stay busy all the time, as though we are wasting our time if we aren’t being actively productive every moment of the day. Perhaps even our quest to be “living persons” may seemingly contribute to this culture of constant productivity: exercise more, learn more, pray more, etc.
But rest--resting in God--allows us to truly embrace the spirit of being living persons in the sense of being more--more fully alive--rather than merely doing more.
Living at a more restful pace this summer has allowed me to be a better version of myself physically, mentally, and spiritually. I’ve felt more in tune with my body and more energized for my daily runs. I’ve read for my own enjoyment for the first time in months -- and found myself better absorbing the content I was encountering. I’ve been more still in my prayer and thus have felt more connected to God -- and in turn have noticed and cherished the ordinary graces of daily life, from the sound of my grandma’s laughter, the beauty of summer trees, and the simple gift of being alive.
If we do not pause for rest, we will only “labor and be burdened.”
But this is not being our full, true selves, and this is not the promise of the Gospel. Jesus offers us rest; we must reach out - or rather, slow down - and accept this gift.
When, where, or how do you rest - truly rest? What effect do you notice this has on your life? How does this rest draw you into deeper relationship with God?
“Rest in the goodness of God, for that goodness reaches to the depths of our needs.”
-Julian of Norwich
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Andy proudly serves as the Assistant Director of Campus Ministry at John Carroll University where he coordinates Ignatian retreats and immersion experiences. He considers the opportunity to minister to college students in this capacity one of the greatest blessings of his life. He enjoys traveling, laughing, and eating his grandmother's cooking. Andy fully supports The Living Person's mission of living every day with deeper intentionality.