Tuesday, July 22, 2014

need some rest?

 Wallpaper cat, yawn, lie, fluffy
Image from wallpaperscraft.com
We didn't take a winter vacation this year and I can tell. There is an underlying, low level of fatigue that I just can't seem to get rid of. Most of our vacation days this year will be spent attending events: a wedding, a family celebration, and next week we will be going to a church conference. All good things, indeed, but they end up not being all that restful for me.

I have been trying to figure out this "rest" thing in the past few months and yesterday while I was on the subway going to the beach (to get some rest), I read something that made me realize that rest is not an event, either. Rest is not a day at the beach. Rest is not a week at a resort. Rest is not a weekend at the cottage. Rest is not something I can simply schedule in and then - BAM - it is done! Going on vacation or taking a day off is great, but it may or may not be restful. It may end up just being another event.

So how do I enter into rest? Essentially, rest is the ability to lay down my burdens. Burdens can take many forms: all the things that call out for my attention and demand my concerted effort, all those problems which take up brain space by causing me to always be searching for creative and effective solutions, or all those nagging past mistakes which make me overly cautious or hesitant or self-critical. These are some of the burdens which keep me from rest.

But really, rest is possible anywhere, anytime. I know that for me, rest is closely tied to wonder and beauty, because it is in the place of simple appreciation, in expressions of childlike delight and surprise, and in stunned or sweet silence, that I am my most trusting. I am at rest when I stare at the clouds and go, "Wow!" I am at rest when I run along a beach and squeal with delight as the ocean licks at my toes. I am at rest when I notice a new flower has lifted its fragile head to the sun. I am at rest when I see my cat stretching and stop whatever I am doing to touch her soft fur. In these moments, I am alive. I am so overcome by the goodness around me that I join with the Creator and take time to simply enjoy it.

May my day be filled with many restful moments today. Moments when I look around me, listen carefully, breathe deeply, and enjoy the gift of being alive.

"And this is why we walk this road: to behold the wonder and savor this aliveness. To remind ourselves who we are, where we are, what's going on here, and how beautiful, precious, holy, and meaningful it all is. It's why we pause along the journey for a simple meal, with hearts full of thankfulness, rejoicing to be part of this beautiful and good creation. This is what it means to be alive."  - Brian D. McLaren, We Make the Road By Walking (Jericho Books, 2014), 6.

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