Why am I so tired? Although I have all the time I want to sleep, I wake up with an immense feeling of fatigue and get up only because I want to do some work. But I feel extremely frustrated. I want to write, read, and respond to some people’s requests, but everything requires an immense effort, and after a few hours of work I collapse in utter exhaustion, often falling into a deep sleep. I expected that I would be tired after the intense and busy summer, but now, after ten quiet days, it feels that the more rest the more tired I become. There seems no end to it.

Fatigue is a strange thing. I can push it away for a long time, I can go on automatic, especially when there are many routine things to do. But when finally the space and time are there to do something new and creative, all the repressed fatigue comes back like a flood and paralyzes me.

I am quite possessive about my time. I want to use it well and realize some of my long-cherished plans. I can’t tolerate wasting time, even though I want to write about wasting time with God, with friends, or with the poor! There are so many contradictions within me.

Hans keeps laughing at me. You are here to relax, to turn off your busyness, but you are living your vacation as a big job!” He is right, but the distance between insight and practice is huge.

The real question for me is how to live my fatigue as an experience that can deepen my soul. 

How can I live it patiently and fully experience its pains and aches?

But I am not the only one who is tired. When I walk in downtown Toronto, I can see fatigue on the faces of the men and women moving quickly from one place to another. They look preoccupied, thinking about family, work, and the many things they have to do before the night falls. And when I look at the faces that appear on the television newscasts from Bosnia, Rwanda, and many other war-torn places, it feels like all of humanity is tired, more than tired, exhausted.

Somewhere I have to connect my little fatigue with the great fatigue of the human race. We are a tired race, carrying a burden that weighs us down. Jesus says, Come to me, you who are tired and feel the burden of life. Take on my burden — which is the burden of the whole world — and you will discover that it is a light burden.” It moves me deeply that Jesus says not I will take your burden away” but Take on God’s burden.” So what is God’s burden? Am I tired simply because I want to do my thing and can’t get it done, or am I tired because I am carrying something larger than myself, something given to me to alleviate the burdens of others?

Sabbatical Journey by Henri J. M. Nouwen, Darton, Longman and Todd Ltd, 2013

Photo by Marzie Vafa on Unsplash

Text First Published November 2013 · Last Featured on Renovare.org June 2024