Resting with Jesus

“Brothers and sisters, I should like you to be free of anxieties” (1 Cor 7:32). The Lord spoke of wanting me to be free from worldly anxiety and only concerned with pleasing the Lord. 

Welcome to article 22 of a weekly series on the formation journey of Br. Josh, MIC, a second-year seminarian at the Marian House of Studies in Steubenville, Ohio. It is the continuation of Br. Josh's previous column, "Novice Notes."

By Br. Josh, MIC 

It was a Sunday morning, and I got out my laptop and prepared to do a little work before the day started for the rest of the community. Ordinarily, I’m the earliest to rise, and this day was no exception. I get my best work done in the morning.

This particular Sunday, I rose later than usual because I had watched the movie Hidalgo the previous night with our community, as recreation. Hidalgo is about a Mustang horse and rider who ride across an immense Arabian desert with dozens of other riders in an incredible horse race. 

I work very hard during the week, but reduce my efforts on Sunday because it’s the Lord’s Day. 

Conversation time
Because I got up later than usual, a couple of Marian brothers trickled through the large refectory where I sat with my laptop, and I took some time talking with them. The best one-on-one fraternal conversations happen when no one else is around, just you and your brother. 

I felt relaxed, a certain peace of mind quietly talking with just one person (at a time) and not thinking too much. The week had been packed with intense effort, physically with marathon-training and mentally with philosophical studies. I was frequently getting only six hours of sleep and, the day before, I felt mentally frayed. 

After the conversations wound down, I walked upstairs with my laptop and prayer books, and I entered meditation in the privacy of my room, using certain beautiful photos and pieces of artwork to enter an inner realm of love and gratitude. 

In my mind, I saw the horse Hidalgo, caked with dirt and sweat. His head was lowered and he was drinking from a pool of clean water. 

I know the horse represented me, engaging in intense efforts that week. 

I then imagined a giant eagle representing the Holy Spirit descending and gently overshadowing the horse with his wings.

“Rest, my beloved,” an inner voice spoke to me. “Be with me in my poverty.”

I want to see
Father Thad has been teaching our community about poverty in religious life, and for me, poverty is tied to peace, freedom, and simplicity. Things can tie me down, become distracting, clutter my room and my life. I protect “my” poverty sometimes jealously, because by keeping my belongings to a minimum, I preserve flexibility, simplicity, and a greater sense of freedom and peace. 

I like walking around my room and not having to maneuver around obstacles, and being able to easily find what I need without searching through extras. My mind feels tranquil when I have very little. 

“I want to see Jesus,” I prayed, quietly.

Jesus appeared in my mind, in His white robe, resting on the grass beside the horse. 

In my mind, I felt a deep feeling of rest and peace.

Free from anxiety
When I opened my eyes, the picture that had appeared from the hundreds cycling steadily on my laptop screensaver was an image of a man resting beside a horse in a grassy valley, his hands caressing its head.

It has been happening a lot lately, that the images in my mental meditation entwine themselves closely with subsequent objective experience. 

The Scripture reading for the day also spoke to this experience: “Brothers and sisters, I should like you to be free of anxieties” (1 Cor 7:32). The Lord spoke of wanting me to be free from worldly anxiety and only concerned with pleasing the Lord. 

Rest, and be . . .

I decided not to do any homework this Sunday, but to take it as a complete day of rest and make sure that I have the mental refreshment I need. 

Brother Josh is pausing his weekly column during the holy season of Lent. "A Brother's Progress" will return after Easter.
Blessed Lent, everyone!
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