Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Necessity of Rest

As my readers know, I had a mega-busy spring. Among Brave Writer classes, Heritage Class Day courses, and homeschooling our own four young people, I was sleeping little and working much...much too much. I often found myself crawling into bed after 3 AM, and starting to home school at 9 AM. Anyone would have been exhausted, but for someone like me with chronic illness issues, it was downright dangerous. I managed all right until this last week when my overdoing and very late nights caught up with me, and my chiropractor ordered REST.

As my (poor) husband knows, I don't rest well. I would much rather be working on a writing project, blogging, redesigning parts of my website, gardening, cleaning, organizing, etc. Resting isn't easy for me. Somehow, for some reason that I haven't yet been able to pinpoint, resting makes me feel guilty. The feelings of guilt could stem from my hard-working father who encouraged us to work hard as kids and who was always chasing me out of the house when he found me holed up in my room, book in hand, lost in another place and time. I see all that needs to be done--here at home, on my to-do list (the mental one--I don't dare write it down for fear I'll really flip myself out), for home schooling, on my book project, in the garden, etc. Ignoring these needs makes me feel guilty, useless--a "bad wife," a "bad mother." I know; I know--I shouldn't feel that way. But I do.

Yesterday afternoon I forced myself to set up my old beach chair under the oaks and pines in our garden and read an Anne Perry mystery for several hours. It was so relaxing to read there, under the trees, the vanilla-scented breeze from the myriad Jeffrey pines in our yard and neighborhood wafting relaxation into me. Today the kids and I tagged along with Keith as he went down to my parents' beach house. While he and my dad finished several handyman jobs, my mom and I escorted the kids down to the beach. While the kids swam, boogie-boarded, and designed sand sculptures (photos to follow!), I finished the Anne Perry novel and started a new mystery, in addition to listening to a book on my iPod. We came home tonight after having a Chinese takeout dinner with my parents, sunburned and tired with that "good tired" that comes from a day spent outdoors--that "good tired" that makes one sleep deeply and (almost) dreamlessly.

Why do we rush through life, always busy? Is it because we're running scared--afraid of what we will think, what we will hear, when we're alone with ourselves? If we slow down, if we clear our minds of the clutter of TV, movies, music, radio, iPods, computers, we can actually think. We can actually pray. We can actually hear that still, small voice of our Father that we are told to listen for, and we can wonder: what will He tell us?

I think that other nationalities are better at resting than we restless Americans. In Europe most people take four weeks of vacation time per year. In America, we're lucky to take half that, and many of us take no vacation at all. Our last "big" vacation was four years ago when we took almost two weeks on a family road trip through Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas (San Antonio), and Arizona. Since then, nothing. We Americans are a restless people, never sitting long enough for the dust to settle. It's as if we're afraid for life to catch up to us, so we keep running, running, running--trying to stay just ahead of reality.

And I am little better. I crave quiet, calm, serenity, solitude. But when I have it, my heart and mind flutter about, not content to settle down--they refuse to rest, even in a restful setting. My desire this summer is to get away for three days at least--to a monastery, to a retreat center, to somewhere I can focus on God. Yet part of me wonders if I can even rest then, with a few days ahead of me to really sit down at Christ's feet and listen to Him. I pray that I can, that I will. My heart hungers for solitude, for time set apart, for soul time, and I hope and pray that I can realize this hunger and thirst of mine for time set apart with God this summer. And rest--for body, mind, heart, soul--rest in Him.

Trying to rest in His grace this day and always,

holy experience


Dancingirl said...

I enjoyed this post, Susanne! Glad you rested yesterday. I, too, often feel guilty when I rest, even when I do it intentionally. That mental list is always there. I've found that it helps me to have a place where I can intentionally rest - a zone where lists aren't allowed. We need rest - mental, spiritual, and physical. We have spiritual rest in Jesus, though often we don't look at it that way. We're so busy "doing" that we don't rest in what He's done. Lol... didn't intend to write a blog myself! Thanks for the post.

Susanne Barrett said...

Thanks so much for commenting, Becky. Yes, resting is hard. I really like your "rest zone" idea--which is going to have to be somewhere outside of my house!

You wrote: "We're do busy 'doing' that we don't rest in what He's done." So true!!!


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