On the Journey: Restless Hearts

Confessions I.1

You have made us for Yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.

About twelve years ago, I was driving around one rainy evening, not following any particular route. The music was playing loud (I don’t remember what), and I was ruminating over recent events in my life. I had just been hired at a new job working with at-risk youth, and was doing well in school, which had not always been the case. But something was missing. I was restless.

West Virginia Winding Country Road - ForestWalker.com. Licensed under Creative Commons Share Alike 3.0

West Virginia Winding Country Road – ForestWalker.com. CC BY-SA 3.0

My grandmother had recently passed away and I had attended her funeral Mass with the rest of my family. I was not Catholic yet, but I recognized something in that moment – even though we were grieving her loss, there was also a sense of expectation and joy. She had lived a faithful life and was loved by her family and her community. A pillar of the town she lived in, she was known for her generosity and, especially to us grandkids, her love and good humor. At her funeral Mass, even though our family grieved, I also vividly remembered words of hope spoken by the priest, hope that she would join the Father, a hope that was available to all of us, a hope that invited our hearts to rest in Him. It was at this time in my life that I had started to wonder, “Is there more? Why am I restless? What am I seeking?”

Here among St. Augustine’s first words in the Confessions, he seeks to find how this hope works, how a person comes to faith in the Lord. Does he pray and discover the Lord, or does the Lord make Himself known to the person, drawing the individual to prayer? In the end, Augustine exclaims, “It is my faith that calls to you Lord, the faith which you gave me.” We will not find rest until we reach out to Him, but He invites us, draws us into that same rest which we seek. In other words, we have to respond, but He always starts the conversation.

The important question today, for all of us, is thus: where do we seek our rest? Where is our hope? To be quite frank, my friends, our hope and rest comes from only one place, one Person: our Lord. For some, those may be hard words to hear. For others, they may make perfect sense. At one point in my life, I thought they were sheer lunacy. The more I have studied, prayed, and searched in my life, however, I have found that this is the only answer: our hearts will only find rest when they rest in the Father, guided by the Spirit, redeemed through the Son.

We can all get distracted, seeking rest in things of this world. Some of these things are even very good too! Some of them, well, are not so good. Do we seek rest in all the wrong places? And if we do, how do we find the way back?

I believe this is the walk we will take with our first companion on the journey, St. Augustine: to discover how to still our restless hearts. No person, no thing, no matter how good, will satisfy this ultimate longing that resides in the depths of the human heart. Only until our hearts rest in His heart will they be at peace. May we all seek Him with open hearts, may we find the One who waits for us, who has been waiting for us all along…

Pax.

Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and rest. -Mark 6.31

For reflection:

1. Where do you seek rest?

2. Is your heart still restless?

Part of an ongoing series, Companions on the Journey

Up next: Confessions Book I, Sections 2-4

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