Rhythms of Rest: Remembering How Spacious Life Can Be

Welcome. This is the second in a series on Sabbath rest. We can learn to make room for spacious living despite the crowded schedules of our ordinary lives. Find your Spirit of Sabbath in a busy world. We’re reading Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller.

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If you keep the Sabbath, you start to see creation not as somewhere to get away from your ordinary life, but a place to frame attentiveness to your life.                                                               ~ Eugene Peterson, The Pastor

Tight Spaces

Lately I get tired listing all I’ve got to do today, tomorrow, next week, next month. Dirty dishes line my kitchen counter like a traffic jam. Clumps of dog hair roll across the tile floor like Texas tumbleweed. I turn to the clean laundry pile on the sofa and tell myself I should be putting corners of clean towels together, folding them in thirds.

Instead, my boots crunch through crusty snow.

I’ve been thinking about my life’s schedule. Demands depleted me more than I realized: extra household responsibilities while my husband returns to college, my job as oncology nurse, our two small groups, my writing workshop, and everything else that seems to squeeze its way tight into every little space.

Don’t get me wrong. Most days I find joy in all these things. (Yes, I find joy in the dirty dishes because they remind me of the broken bread they held, and the people who shared it.)

But some days make no space for joy.

Making Space

This year I decide to take small steps toward creating greater spaces between me—and unrest.

I’ve been taking more pictures lately. It’s one way I set apart time for Sabbath rest.

I walk up white embankments, leaving the daily grind behind. My Nikon camera dangles from my neck as I search to frame attentiveness to my life and God’s beauty in my lens. I notice how the angle of my body bends into nature. The cold of the camera presses against my cheek. Sounds sharpen. Colors brighten. Time slows. I lean into a rhythm of rest.

In her book Finding Spiritual Whitespace, Bonnie Gray writes, “Spiritual rest is a journey of awakening our hearts to fully receive.”

Snowflakes fall soft on my camera. I receive them like pearls of prayer beads. They sprinkle my wool coat like a confirmation of His presence. I surface from the silence with an expansive peace and belonging.

Shelly Miller writes, “Sabbath reminds us that we belong because we are already accepted. Rest requires that we be who we are and nothing else.”

I lower myself to the glacial ground and lay my back on the snow’s sturdy surface. I point my lens up to receive a new frame of reference. Seeing from a new perspective creates an opening for me to empty out. I slow the shutter speed of my life and allow more Light to pour in.

Heading back into the house, I decide to start the tea water before preparing dinner. I gain new energy for the tasks ahead of me. I know that if I had resisted the rest, I may have resented the day’s remaining work.

Putting the Bricks Down

Work and resentment were well known to the Israelites. In the Book of Exodus, the Egyptian pharaoh kept them enslaved. He put bricks in their hands and whips to their backs. He appointed slave masters who ensured the slaves worked without any days off. After the Israelites were finally delivered from bondage, they found it difficult to adjust to their freedom. Even though they experienced inhumane conditions, they feared the uncertainties of the future. They missed the familiarity of Egypt.

They wanted to pick up their bricks again!

How about us? Do we continue to pick up our bricks, not put them down, even carry them on our backs? Are we driven to keep up and compete? Do we fear we won’t get everything done if we pause? Are we afraid we’ll miss out on something? When we get caught up in our culture’s insanity, we are held captive.

Adele Calhoun, author of Spiritual Disciplines writes, “Sabbath is God’s way of saying, ‘Stop. Notice your limits. Don’t burn out.’” We were not created to live in constant heavy-handed toil.

Choosing rest isn’t a sign of weakness or failure. It brings clear intention and deep satisfaction to our lives.

I let go of bricks, one at a time. Over the past several weeks I:

  • chose tea with a friend over social media engagement;
  • put my phone away when speaking to those I love;
  • stepped outside in the morning after a rainy night and noticed the sun illuminating drops of water on winter branches;
  • did things I love—took in a movie, cooked together as a family, and read a novel;
  • watched birds in formation against the melting orange-sherbet sky;
  • paused to listen to rain clap like applause on the roof;
  • cuddled on the couch to read and discuss the bible with my husband.

Sabbath rest empties my hands so I can connect with God, others, and myself.

Tonight while I cook dinner, I sip blueberry green tea. Sweet onions simmer on the stove as I remember how beautifully spacious ordinary life can be.

 

Snowflakes sprinkle my wool coat like a confirmation of His presence. Click To Tweet We were not created to live in constant heavy-handed toil. Click To Tweet I slow the shutter speed of my life and allow more Light to pour in. Click To Tweet If I had resisted the rest, I may have resented the day’s remaining work. Click To Tweet Rest brings clear intention and deep satisfaction to our lives. Click To Tweet Sabbath rest empties my hands so I can connect with God, others, and myself. Click To Tweet

 

(Photo By Sharon A Gibbs)

Week #1: Rhythms of Rest: An Invitation to More

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