It is in part my own unsettled feeling that has made me pay attention to an article titled The Spirituality of Restlessness in a pamphlet by the Friends World Committee for Consultation.
In this pamphlet, Snyder (2010) describes spiritual restlessness as archetypal. He describes it as “the call to leave the known for the unknown” (Snyder, p. 2). He makes the assertion that it is found in all religious traditions. Snyder describes that he has gone to a Trappist monastery for the silence because of the experienced restlessness: too much has been going on in his life. However, instead of finding a comforting calm within the sheltering walls of the monastery and the ever-repeating daily rhythms of monastic life, Snyder has found a longing and a passion. He describes it as a longing for God, a passion for truth. And he relates this state to Holy Restlessness. It is that same inner urgency, which is documented in George Fox’ autobiography: one that drives people to pursue things outside their comfort zones.
Snyder distinguishes the spiritual, inner restlessness from restlessness in the outward lives of people. He does not elaborate on the restlessness in the outward lives; he simply assumes that everybody is sufficiently aware of the factors that drive people to live busy, restless lives and to experience the stresses from it.
Snyder concludes about spiritual restlessness that the driving force is not the affected person, but the “Divine Spirit”. He describes God as “the Divine Disturber of our souls” (p.3). It is a force that seems to counteract the human tendency to bask in our achieved comforts and settled convictions. It is the power that questions the taken-for-granted, that undoes the worldly refuges: “I’ve learned how to keep the Love of God at some distance so that I can be warmed by it without having to take it too seriously” (p. 3-4).
Snyder can filter for himself the spiritual restlessness from other forms of restlessness in his life. How do we apply that to the writings to our own biographies with restless episodes and feelings of restlessness. Which ones are evidence for the divine disturber at work, and which ones are part of our outward lives?
Snyder, D.O. (2010). The Spirituality of Restlessness. 11p. Philadelphia, PA: The Wider Quaker Fellowship. http://fwccamericas.org/publications/wqf/2010_fall/Spirituality_restlessness.shtml