Is Your Soul Restless?

Be still and know

“Is your Soul Restless?” The sign is written in bold white letters on a red background

Underneath the words is a quote from Saint Augustine:

“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”

The sign is well placed in a subway stop at Davis Square. It advertises Tremont Temple – a church in downtown Boston, historically known for its challenge to racism.

Davis Square is considered hip.Tufts University students, young working professionals and others all find second homes in the coffee shops, bars, and theater in the area. At Davis Square everyone seems comfortable in their own skin, until you dig a little deeper.

By any surveys, Boston is considered “unchurched.” You’re much more likely to see people out to brunch or jogging on the river, no matter the weather, than see people in church on a Sunday. I’ve grown used to this, so when I see a sign like this I stop and take notice, and I wonder if others do as well.

For all its success as a city, there are a lot of restless souls in Boston. You see restlessness through the suicide rates at MIT and Harvard, both significantly higher than the national average.  You see restlessness through the general meanness on the street. You see restlessness through the impatience on the subway. It may be hidden behind success, but these are restless souls.

And then I think about myself, about my own restless soul.

I was walking around my house the other day, my eyes sharply looking to reduce clutter when I suddenly realized – my house is clean, but my soul is cluttered and restless. As I came to this inner truth, I stopped. How do I redirect myself and pay as much attention to my soul as I am paying to the stuff that doesn’t really matter? The cupboards that will yet again become chaotic and the shelves that will accumulate dust bunnies in a short time?

The more attention I frantically pay to the external, the less I have to think about the wrongs that need to be righted inside, the apologies that must be voiced, the worry that needs to be confronted, and the “do by self” attitude that has taken over, making me feel like a two-year old that is so determined to do it on her own that she fails to see it’s far more complicated going it alone.

I wonder too, if the analogy can also apply to the soul of a society. The more cluttered, chaotic and restless it becomes, the more there is need to put rules and legislation in place to create order that will never satisfy and never bring about the wanted results.

A cluttered, restless soul – a cluttered, restless society. The more I focus on the second, the more I can ignore the first.

But those bold, white words are still there, waiting for restless eyes to read, to stop, to take notice. They are clear and personal: “Is YOUR soul restless?

I know that this restlessness is part of the human condition, part of who I am. I also know that rest is available.

Help comes in simple words “Be Still.”

“Be still and know that I am God.”  Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to be still but in these words that might seem counter intuitive, I find rest.