This past week we spent spring break with dear friends on a tiny island where bicycles were our main mode of transportation. The kids had a yard to run in and their favorite activity the first few days was playing with a tub of grass clippings. My soul needed rest and rest it got. We all needed rest, but it didn’t come easily.
My tendency is to be in motion, achieving and activating and often I feel pretty good at the end of it. Tidy up, get ahead start and check it off. But my friend challenged the value of my default mode. One day after lunch and after putting our combined five kids down for naps or rest time, I came out to the yard and she was sprawled on the grass. Just laying there, in the sun and totally out. It was beautiful. Before I could process it all, I was already back in the cabin, ready to do something. Then I thought, no, I don’t want to be inside. I want to be out there in the sun. So, I grabbed a beach towel and pillow and laid out in the sun.
After about ten minutes my little Lexie came skipping by, kicked her shoes off and said, “Mama, I’m going to join you.” She snuggled in next to me and I relished the moment- unrushed, simple and shared. Rest is contagious and attractive.
The next day during afternoon nap time (holler if your days are ordered by nap time), my dear friend was curled up on the couch looking at a magazine while her one year old crawled around discovering the place. Huh. Rest; just because. It wasn’t “productive” to the eye but oh it looked attractive.
The next day during morning nap time (wait, didn’t I just write that??) Dave took the three older kids on a bike ride. (Yes, he pulls two in the trailer and one is on a bike seat behind him. That is his version of rest.) Our friends went on a date and I was on baby nap time duty. Alone in the house, the babies quiet, I had a choice: wipe the crumbs from breakfast off the table, tidy the kitchen and prep lunch or… or… curl up on the couch and read. Read! Just for fun and not even productive. Done. A copy of Real Simple from 2014 (yep) was my companion for the next hour and a half. In fact, I was still sitting on the couch when everyone returned from their adventures and I was almost giddy. I had read about women who had risked big and made their dreams come true. They inspired me to remember life is big, God is big and He has beautiful things in store for me. He’s created me for beauty, wonder and… rest.
Toward the end of the week, Dave asked everyone a question over dinner, “What has God been teaching you?” The four parents’ responses were punctuated with kids’ requests, spills and trips into the kitchen but my friend Talia and I shared a sweet moment. She shared that God had been teaching her about spending time with those she cherishes, and then she said she was marked by how I rested and read on the couch earlier in the week. I smiled and told her how she had inspired me to rest. We laughed. Rest is contagious to little people and big people alike.
What happened after vacation was over? Saturday we got home and naturally the apartment exploded in post-vacation style. Laundry, little kid backpacks with “treasures” that needed to be unpacked and toiletry bags littering the bathroom counter. I really don’t like clutter. I don’t feel restful. Hmmm. By Sunday afternoon I was twitching, ok not really but internally I was uneasy. Dave took the kids to the park and I was going to get the house back in shape before the week started. My soul rumbled and sat uneasy as the door shut. “OK, go.” I thought. Get in gear. But I couldn’t. I was craving to sit and let my soul “arrive home” after such a peaceful, simple and good week away. Without guilt, I gathered my notebook and pulled my bird chair into the sunny spot of the living room. Oh I sat and I journaled and talked to God about the myriad of waves that have been methodically working on, and in some cases eroding, my soul the last months. Pages of questions and ideas and thoughts and desires. A mental and heart download. I shut my notebook and picked up the Bible study I wanted to start. After reading about the Bible study approach I felt more prepared to start it the following day. Somehow my family was still not home, which gave me time to tidy up the kitchen and start dinner.
By the time they came home, my soul was more at rest and I had even made progress on dinner. The rest of the apartment was still messy but I had chosen well and had chosen differently than I usually do. My soul was more rested and much because my dear friend had modelled rest to me last week. She was able to embrace the quiet, the sunny and the slow moment. Rest is contagious. Now in the spirit of honesty, Monday was a bit ugly and I was annoyed that the piles hadn’t magically disappeared. But the process of learning to listen to my soul as it calls me to rest is worth it.
What about for you; do you rest easily? How do you invite rest into your daily life?