Hello dear friends, I’ve packed up the SLOW Word lectio divinas in my suitcase and you’re coming on vacation with me! This scripture is the perfect place to start and happens to be Sunday’s lectionary. Bonus! Join me weekly for a feast of the word right here. Want more? Subscribe on the right to get them slipped right into your inbox and receive my intro to lectio divina welcome video.
Why is true refreshment so elusive?
As we point the minivan towards the Green Mountains of New Hampshire and our yearly family vacation, I’m reminded that on vacation we sometimes just relocate our frenetic pace. My sister coined this being stuck on high speed through life as doing “Cedar Point” after the amusement park perched on the shores of Lake Erie. These days we’re no longer an amusement park kind of family. We linger long at Italian restaurants with the antipasta and a glass of pinot. Now we use “Cedar Point” as a verb when we discuss being overwhelmed and cramming “just one more thing” into our schedule such as: “I’m going to have to say no. That sounds like Cedar Point” or “if we stop at one more store, it’ll be completely Cedar Point.” It’s our white flag that we need to listen to our need for rest and downsize into something small and quiet.
But how often do we listen? For years I lived full speed ahead. I’d only declare a sabbath after pushing towards an exhaustion which was more kin to illness. Sabbath had more to do with a crash than a rhythm. Later after a day of netflix bingeing, I’d be crawling from deep in overwhelm back up to Zero, but refreshment? I barely knew what that meant.
I’m learning to give myself time to push the pause button early, to allow myself to recognize my poverty before the Lord and ask: “Will You be my Teacher, to learn a rhythm of rest in a way that will truly refresh me?”
That’s the question I asked after a week of new faces and church services and the tightly cramped schedule of the Anglican Church of North America’s Provincial Assembly at Wheaton College. The answer came in the form of an unexpected detour and an errand, a task I took while grudgingly. Why would I want to leave? I was happily surrounded by family, three couples and seven kids at my in-law’s cottage in North Central Ohio. We were tucked deep in Amish country under a thick canopy of trees. I won’t even mention the full tins of homemade gingersnaps. Besides, I brought my watercolors.
When we’re at my in-laws, the rules for rest are graciously bent. We nap when we need to and curl up under one of mom’s handstitched quilts on a couch in the cool of the basement. We check into work occasionally but for the most part forget our computers and phones charging in a back bedroom. We spend the evenings in front of the campfire down the hill in surrounded by a crescent of tall pines. The fireflies blink their syncopated magic while we watch the children reach for the tiny hatches of light.
But in the midst of Grandparents’ Camp 2017 and an hour car ride to watch the July 4th fireworks, the check engine light began its long unwelcome glare. We were on a cross-country trip. We needed a mechanic sooner than later. This was only stop two of six. Mom and Dad’s personal garage mechanic came to the rescue which is to say that I would need to spend Monday in Mansfield stuck in never-ending-strip-mall-world (My Favorite.) just down the road from where my husband and I went to high school. The repair shop was smack dab between our favorite pizza shop and the paint store where I had my first job pretending I had expertise on paint colors and wallpaper patterns.
My sister-in-law came to the rescue and gave me a ride from the garage to the library in the adjacent town. I slid into a banquette beside a floor to ceiling window and sat in the slanted light. I spread out a new journal on the table and felt the promise of the empty pages. That morning, what had felt like a detour away from rest became permission for this mama to be alone and listen to the scrawl of pen on paper for a few solid hours.
The next day as I sat on the rough hewn picnic table next to the campfire ring and spent time with Matthew 11:28-30 in this lectio divina video, I heard Jesus’ invitation to rest from a slightly different angle.
I heard it with a new bent to trust.
That Monday I hadn’t needed to grasp at rest. It had been perfectly shaped for my refreshment. Those two long hours in Ashland Ohio’s library reminded me who holds those keys. As I read the end of Matthew 11 in our slow word and heard, “Come to Me,” I was being invited to stop pursuing own artificial version. No more self-provision. No more lurching speeds and then the steep crash of a Cedar Point.
Hi Friends, this summer I’m joining the Grace Table family and reading Shelly Miller‘s beautiful book, Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World. This book is tall-glass-of-iced-tea good. It’s gentle and grace-filled for those of us just learning here and I think you’ll find that by sitting with Shelly’s words, you’ll begin saying yes to Sabbath in small ways. Join me?