To WREST -- the battle in the middle of the night -- when meaning is the match that hits the flint of our darkest fears, greatest regrets and biggest sufferings. That still small voice in the middle of the night that flips me from one side to the next, both internally and externally and I feel piercingly alone with the unrelenting force.
To WREST: " to pull, force or move by violent wringing or twisting" (Merriam-Webster) -- which feels like a magnetic field that carries me backwards and towards a dark hole in isolation. Jacob was there -- in the hold of the angel of WREST -- and it left him with a limp (Genesis 32) -- one is never the same when it's the heart of our lives that is at stake. Pharaoh found himself in a similar situation, plagued in the middle of the night with a WREST that kept him awake and plagued by fear, doubt, and truth and summoned the young Joseph to unravel the mess of his life(Genesis 25) -- and then there was another Joseph who found himself held in the grip of WREST as he knew a truth which made no sense and which would undoubtedly change his life, but without diving into the center of the dark, left alone to WREST with truth, there would be no other rest.
I know that feeling. The rest that won't come, irregardless of the number of hours of sleep recorded by my tracking device. It misses the point. There is an obstacle that won't rest until we wrest.
It's easy to see the glamour of the season -- the Hallmark channel version of life, where every obstacle has meaning and the story ultimately ends with a tissue box of joy. But, it's not God's message -- it's ours. To believe -- To Advent, is to WREST -- to dive into the truth like Joseph did, and Mary, and the Innkeeper, and the wise-ones -- they were people who dove into the darkness, grappled with truth and only then could rest. The connection is unmistakable.
In the face of persecution, hunger, displacement, unjust actions by those in authority, misunderstanding, judgement and fear -- they couldn't escape the need to WREST with the real. And, neither can we. Ultimately, no amount of digital distraction keeps us numb long enough to escape the work of Advent -- to WREST.
There are few things of which I am certain, but I know for sure that when we face "it" (whatever the definition) and WREST -- in the middle of the mess, the chaos, the fear, and the questions...there, like Jacob, we see God face to face -- and then, we rest. This is the journey of Advent. To inhale the Grace to Wrest and then to Rest.
So, in the midst of the Silent Night, Holy Night -- let us Wrest with confidence that we are not alone as we might think, but are instead being led into the Advent light -- for the star appears in the dark -- and there, we find rest.
Let us WREST with what really matters
To follow the pathway before us
Letting go of the fear, long enough to listen
Trusting that to move through the darkness,
There is light
There is rest.
With you on the journey.
Writing and Image: Bridget Bearss, RSCJ
Executive Director, Stuart Center