Jesus knew the toll that weariness can exact on the human spirit. Tiredness of heart can slowly drain the human heart of the life force it needs to beat confidently through life.
Weariness afflicts the old and the young. The young succumb to boredom. The old pass their days hoping for an uplift that does not come through bus trips and bingo.
Walker Percy likened despair to that stuffed and sleepy feeling that comes upon one after a martini-fueled lunch, when all that can be looked forward to is the next day's lunch. And more martinis.
Yet some people find something in life that keeps them alert, alive, passionate and giving. They keep moving, keep giving, keep hoping.
I remember seeing an old lady on a Manhattan street. She looked to be a bag lady. She wore a knit cap and a coat that was several sizes too big. She had a grocery cart filled with her belongings and pushed it in front of her as she made her way up the street.
She moved with a shuffle. The wheels on the cart were a bit off, and she had to struggle a bit to keep it balanced. She stopped at every trash can, looking for cans, for discarded newspapers, for items that she thought she might have use of.
When she found something good, she took it and placed it in her cart. And kept moving.
I had the impression that she was determined, that she had a purpose or two that got her through her days. Her bingo was the street and its challenges, as well as the treasures she found, treasures that were once trash. I think her life had a spark. It had a bounce.
In the news these days, there is a story about the possible demise of Twinkies -- the little cream-filled dessert cake. The factory is shutting down.
A friend of mine made it a point to tell me that Twinkies have absolutely no nutritional value. They are nicely packaged junk food.
I saw a picture yesterday of a crowd outside a store, their carts filled to the brim with Twinkie packages. Boxes and boxes of them. They were buying all they could, not being able to bear the thought of a Twinkie-less unverse.
We do not seem to think twice about filling ourselves with things that have no value. Twinkies offer nothing good for the weary, the hungry. But now the shelves are empty.
There are other shelves along life's aisles, filled with good and telling things. I'll tell you about one of them.
In the last years of my mom's life, we were blessed to have wonderful people who cared for her. We had -- she had -- George the nurse; Patricia and Dean, who were also nurses; Jeff the muscle therapist; Dr. White and others.
Her life was slipping away and they all knew that it was a matter of time before the end. But they worked her muscles, gave her medicines, bathed her, helped her inch along, fed her and clothed her.
I watched, and wondered, and I thought of something as I watched. All our efforts are limited. We help each other until we die -- and some of us help each other die.
My mom knew that her life here was ebbing away. But that did not matter to her. What she loved was the comfort of the words, and the warmth of human touch, the gift of the sincere care she was given.
We bear God within us, and it seemed that God was caring for God -- the persistent God, who in the most giving and spirited of us, never grows weary. It is God who loves us, through others, until the day we move on. He makes for a well-lived life, and a very human passing from one life to another.
It is God who keeps us going, be that a journey on a Manhattan street or in the arms of a caregiver. God is persistent. Look around and you will find him.
There is a world beyond Twinkies, if you move past the empty shelves to the delights on the streets and places where there is human, and persistent, care.
Father James Stephen (Jeff) Behrens, O.C.S.O., serves at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit, 2625 Ga. Highway 212 S.W., Conyers. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.