In Quest of Rest

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Garrison Keillor has quit the Prairie Home Morning Show on KSJN. For those of you hooked on KTIS or WCCO who haven’t discovered Minnesota Public Radio, Garrison Keillor is a composite of Ernie Ford, Robert Frost, Perry Como, and Francis of Assisi. He will still host the Prairie Home Companion from 5 to 7 on Saturday evening live from the World Theater in downtown St. Paul. But as of April he is done with the Morning Show after 6 years of vintage Minnesota country in cosmopolitan dress.

The reason Keillor quit is the same reason he is so popular among the American babies of World War II. His soul cannot find rest. None of my generation can find rest. If you are in your thirties, you have thought twenty times about quitting what you are doing. We are a very restless bunch. Here’s the way Keillor interprets his resignation:

It brings to mind what my poor father said after he put me to work cleaning the garage and found me 15 minutes later reading a book: “Why can’t you ever stick to a job? When are you going to grow up? How are you ever going to make a living if you don’t learn how to finish a job?” A 12-year-old boy is easily distracted from his employment because a child’s real work is the investigation and surveillance of the world.

Children hear sirens all the time: There is a constant circus parade just beyond the horizon that is more important than the assignment at hand. You wouldn’t want children to be so lacking curiosity that they wouldn’t be lured away — nonetheless, when I see a 12-year-old boy reading a book, lying on the bed that I told him to make five minutes ago, I feel my father’s words coming up my throat: “What’s wrong with you? When are you going to learn?” Clearly I am no example.

Maybe my generation has never grown up. I can’t think of a better way of describing it than that: “There is a constant circus parade just beyond the horizon that is more important than the assignment at hand.” Our souls know no rest. We are in perpetual quest. We look at Keillor’s six years on the same morning show and say, “Wow, how did he last so long on the job?” Our New England forefathers who pastored the same church for 60 years must have been from another planet. Futurists say we will each have five careers before we retire. We are a restless generation.

I won’t pass judgment on us yet. But here is a word we need to hear: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me . . . and you will find rest for your soul” (Matthew 11:29). Jesus is wise. He knows the rest we seek is not inactivity. So he calls us to a yoke. There is kingdom labor to be done. He also knows the rest we seek is not ignorance. So he calls us to unending discovery: “Learn from me and you will find rest.”

Garrison Keillor was lured off to write a book about the imaginary town of Lake Wobegon, Minnesota where Father Emil and Pastor Ingkvist minister to the Catholics and the Lutherans. Is this the “circus parade beyond the horizon,” Garrison? Or is it an echo from beyond the final horizon: the voice of Jesus in quest of your rest: “Learn from me and you will find rest for your soul”?