Unhurried

Acadia purrs on my lap, Milo snores softly at my feet, steam drifts from the spout of my teapot, and birdsong fills the house (thanks to Stephen installing microphones by the feeders). I sit in my rocking chair wrapped in warm wool, watching as dawn slowly yields to day. It’s my weekly Quiet Day, when Stephen goes to the office and I have an unscheduled day of silence and solitude. Not complete silence, as I hear a woodpecker drumming his morning beat over and over, a Crow cawing as he sweeps across the clouds, and myriad other birds raising their voices in their spring chorus, but the silence that comes with no speech and more or less inner quiet.

I sit. I sip my tea, stroke my sweet cat, still my soul. In a while I’ll open my Bible to read and ponder this morning’s passage. I’ll spend time in prayer for family, friends, and others. I’ll prepare and eat breakfast. I’ll walk with Petra and Milo. But for now, for these quiet early morning moments, I sit and watch. There is no need to hurry on my Quiet Day, no to-do list governing my time, no schedule to fit myself into.

This is my day to be and to be refreshed. A day to connect with my own soul,and, in the process, renew my connection with the One who is always here, waiting for me to sit quietly with Him over a cup of tea or a page in my sketchbook or to walk with Him as I enjoy His creatures and His creation.

“I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits,
    and in his word I put my hope.
 I wait for the Lord
    more than watchmen wait for the morning,
    more than watchmen wait for the morning.”
Psalm 130:5-6

“This is the day the Lord has made,
let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Psalm 118:24

“The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it,
the world and all who live in it…”
Psalm 24:1

Today’s sketching

Rest for your Soul

Sometimes life feels overwhelming and exhausting, and the last thing we want is another obligation, yet it seems like there’s always more that needs to be done. In our Sunday morning discussion of Sabbath rest yesterday, we spent most of the hour delving into Jesus’ invitation to come to him, rest, and learn from him. Jesus invites those who are weary and burdened; let’s come to him this week and receive his refreshing peace.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30

Monday: Do you tend to view with spending time with God as a duty or a privilege? Meditate on Jesus’ words in this passage and ponder what they say about time with him.

Tuesday: Jesus invites us into his presence. We don’t need to make an appointment or be in church or make ourselves worthy- he invites each of us now, wherever we are. Spend some time with him today and thank him for welcoming you.

Wednesday: We don’t have to come to Jesus all upbeat and happy. He invites us to bring our burdens to him and to come when we’re weary and in need. Bring your troubles to Jesus, and rest. Just rest.

Thursday: Jesus tells us to take his yoke upon us, to walk in step with him, and that we’ll find his yoke easy and light. Walk in his ways him and talk with him throughout the day today.

Friday: Jesus is gentle and humble. Think about what grace this is for us, when he is also Lord of all. Pray for the ability to likewise be gentle and humble with those over whom you have power or influence.

Saturday: It is only in Jesus that we can find true rest for our souls. Come to him, learn from him, and receive the peaceful rest he gives.

Close of Day

All are welcome to join us for our discussions about rest and Sabbath on Sunday mornings from 9-10. More information below…

Come join us!

Rest– Musings and Prayers

I’ve been reading and pondering a couple of books about stress reduction and rest recently. Even though I cherish quiet time, I need frequent reminders of how important it is to schedule in time for real rest, since it’s easy to feel that I should be using as much of my time as possible productively, like many of the people around me. Stephen mostly works from home, but once a week he goes to his office, so that I can have a quiet day at home alone. Ideally I spend these days reading, resting, sketching, walking, praying, and so on. Sometimes, though, I find myself catching up on emails and other correspondence, doing several loads of laundry, cleaning, and so on.

Both of the books I’m reading emphasize the importance of evaluating priorities and living intentionally. I’m finding the book on rest, Sabbath, by Wayne Muller, particularly interesting and helpful, as he talks about developing a rhythm in our lives that includes putting a priority on rest and relationship. He discusses the way our society tends to value money over time and how that can impoverish us personally, relationally, and spiritually. This month I am focusing on establishing some helpful daily and weekly patterns or rhythms for myself, and this week I want to focus on the idea of Sabbath rest, especially thinking of it as a gift of rest and relationship, rather than as an onerous restriction.

No working on the Sabbath; keep it holy just as God, your God, commanded you. Work six days, doing everything you have to do, but the seventh day is a Sabbath, a Rest Day—no work: not you, your son, your daughter, your servant, your maid, your ox, your donkey (or any of your animals), and not even the foreigner visiting your town. That way your servants and maids will get the same rest as you. Don’t ever forget that you were slaves in Egypt and God, your God, got you out of there in a powerful show of strength. That’s why God, your God, commands you to observe the day of Sabbath rest.
Deuteronomy 5:12-15 The Message

 

Monday: Set aside some time as holy (which means “set apart”), a time for resting from work and for communion with God.

Tuesday: Thank God that he values us and our presence with him and not just the work we do.

Wednesday: Ask God to help you slow down to rest your mind and body and to nurture your relationship with him.

Thursday: How can you encourage the people in your life to set aside their work at times so they can rest. Ask if there’s some way you can help or affirm them in doing so.

Friday: Think back on what God has freed you from. Meditate on the amazing thought that God has freed you to be in relationship with him!

Saturday: Enjoy your time with God today. Read, pray, laugh, sing, or walk with him, and praise him for his redeeming love.

Sketch of my retreat house I did while having a day of solitude today. (This is the house my sons built for themselves for a homeschool project, which I inherited when they grew up.)

The Gift of Sleep– Musings and Prayers

 

I took the red-eye home from California last Wednesday, and I didn’t sleep at all on the flight (because I was fascinated watching out the window, seeing the brilliantly lit cities, solitary lights shining in the dark, and the deep dark of uninhabited regions). Consequently I was as tired as I can remember all day Wednesday and am only now caught up on sleep, so sleep has been very much on my mind.

I love the way Milo curls into a ball when he sleeps

Because of my sleep-deprived state, the following verses about God giving sleep to those he loves came to mind when I thought of what to ponder this week. Then I decided to look up my old records and see what verses I had written on around this date in previous years, and I found that on June 26, 2011 I had written on these same verses! I don’t know why I had, since this was my first red-eye flight and probably my first completely sleepless night since college days, but it seems very timely, so I’m using it again on June 26th, just slightly revised.

Unless the Lord builds the house,
    the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
    the guards stand watch in vain.
In vain you rise early
    and stay up late,
toiling for food to eat—
    for he grants sleep to those he loves.” Psalm 127: 1-2

Monday: What different kinds of work do you do, whether as a job, or in your home, or in some capacity as a volunteer? Bring it all before God and ask him to work with and through you, making your work effective and good and of eternal value.

Tuesday: Ask God for wisdom about your work. Are there any changes you could be making in what you’re doing? How about in how much you’re doing? I know that I tend to say yes to too many requests for my time, so this is a question I need to ask myself often, remembering that it is ultimately God’s work and not all my responsibility. Let’s listen carefully for his guidance today.

Wednesday: What or who do you try to protect or safeguard? Yourself? Someone or something else? Ponder the statement that unless the LORD watches, our watching is in vain, and commit yourself and that which is precious to you into his care.

Thursday: Does anxiety drive you to work too much? If so, think about God’s promise to supply your needs and protect you, then entrust yourself and your needs to him.

Friday: As you go to bed tonight, thank God for the gift of sleep, and ask him to help you receive it peacefully.

Saturday: God wants us to be fruitful in our work and to have peace and rest. Praise him for his love and goodness that bless our lives every day.

The sweet sleep of a newborn :)

Invitation to come and rest– Musings and prayer

I am in San Francisco this week meeting my new granddaughter, Elizabeth, and helping my son and daughter-in-law adjust to life with a toddler and a baby–a time of much joy, and I am filled with gratitude. I am also being reminded of how exhausting it is to care for an energetic toddler, and I know my son and daughter-in-law will often be tired in the coming weeks and months. So weariness and rest are on my mind, and this week I want to meditate on Jesus’ invitation to those who are weary to come to him and rest.

Sometimes when I read and meditate on Jesus’ words, they present a different picture of what he’s like than I’ve thought, whether because of my own experiences, or society’s view of him, or even from how’s he’s been represented by the church. That’s one reason I read and reread and ponder his words as recorded in the gospels and why I also always appreciate hearing the thoughts of others who are reading them with fresh eyes. I’m including the passage in two very different translations, since that also sometimes helps me get a fresh perspective on what I’m reading.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (NIV)

28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

Monday: Of all the voices around you, how many invite you to rest? How often do you actually rest in a way that leaves you refreshed in both body and soul?

Tuesday: What burdens are you dealing with? Are you weary from carrying them? If so, Jesus’ invitation is for you, to come and rest. Take some time today to really rest, receiving whatever opportunity you have to rest as a gift.

Wednesday: At times, when I’m really wound up or on the go, I find it hard to slow down and rest, even when I have the opportunity. Jesus invites us to learn how to rest from him. So many of the voices around us are telling us to work harder, produce more, make ourselves better, but Jesus invites us to come as we are and receive from him. Ponder this thought today and think about how Jesus’ words differ from the world’s demands.

Thursday: Jesus is gentle and humble. Let’s meditate on that today, thinking about what that means for our relationship with him and also for how we live in relationship with others.

Friday: What might the “unforced rhythms of grace” look like in our daily life. Let’s ponder this throughout the day today.

Saturday: Do your life or responsibilities sometimes feel too heavy? Jesus tells us that his yoke is easy and his burden light– that he doesn’t lay loads on us too heavy for us to bear. Ask God to help you know what is from him and what are actually demands from others that aren’t something God is calling you to deal with. Jesus calls us to walk and work with him, so that we don’t have to do it alone and so we can get the rest we need.

A bundle of sweetness
Paul stopping to smell the flowers