Mattie has been the secretary for a Baptist Church for nearly forty years. I met her when I started my private practice in 1990. Her husband worked in the office two doors down from mine, and she and I started up a friendship.
Anytime we saw one another, she always said, "God Rest Your Soul."
One day we had a cup of tea together in my office. I asked her why she used that departing salutation as "goodbye." I asked her, "Mattie, most people use that term when the one they're saying "goodbye" to isn't coming back. I've seen that printed on headstones. So, forgive me but why is it that, of all the ways you can say goodbye, you choose to use that phrase?"
She laughed, "You don't mince words, do you? Well, let me tell you a little story." (Note: if you ever, ever, ever want to get my attention about anything, start with the phrase, "well, let me tell you a little story.")
Mattie said, "Because it's what I want people to feel. As I see it, this is the fundamental wish that I hope all of us recieve: Rest in our soul. That energy which carries us through our day, the one that interrupts the calamity in our head, may it recharge itself through the hand of God, and receive the rest it to bring us through the night, delivering us to the doorstep of the dawn."
"The soul is our spiritual vehicle. It surrounds us, comes through us, and is the energy that connects us to our Higher Power. The heart is our battery. The soul charges the heart with compassion, forgiveness, acceptance and love. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened...for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest in your souls." I first read that passage when I was in high school and ever since I've wished all those that cross my path, "May God Rest Your Soul."
"This is where we need to rest most. It is within our soul that rest is fundamental to our relationships, the love we have for one another and the love we hold for ourselves. Our souls hold life's energy, and connect us with one another through all the goodness in the Universe. Above all else, may our souls be balanced and rested, so that the light from within carries our message of love to one another."
Mattie sipped her tea, and smiled at me. "Does that make it any more clear to you?"
"Yes," was all I was able to get out of my lips. To be honest, I think I just mouthed the words. I was awestruck at her explanation, so I'm not sure if I was able to generate any sound from my throat.
So I just went back to my tea. We sat silently for what seemed like a half hour. Then I saw Mattie close her eyes, whisper something to herself, turn to me and say, "Well, I have to run. I hope that made sense to you." "Mattie," I said, "I have goose bumps."
Mattie, smiling, said, "that's God recharging that soul of yours, I'm sure. Prayer rests your soul. So does meditation. So does wishing all those who cross your path peace and, as I mentioned, rest in their soul."
From that day forward, whenever we saw one another, we always used that same greeting. She's the only one I've ever said that to, but I say it quietly to those I see or think about. One of you reading this probably had that thought sent to you at one time or another. If you were in my thoughts, you were sent that message.
You can thank Mattie for that.