Wednesday, April 4, 2012
"Elsie is 96 years old. The Band-Aid-pink lipstick defines pencil-thin lips that are upward at the corners when she sees me. She rarely leaves Morningside Retirement Center, but still dresses in handsomely coordinated separates and pearl earrings. Her hair is softly coiffed, unlike the tightly curled and sprayed styles of her peers. She exudes contentment. I try to sit close to her, thinking it might be contagious. Elsie has never been married and has lived all of her life in Nashville. She went to high school barely two miles from where she lives now. And she tells me about what used to be on the corner before Vanderbilt University mowed it down and put up brick buildings on it. It seems funny to me that, at 96, she doesn't tell me about all of her accomplishments or what she did for a living. In fact, after all of the times I've visited with her, I still don't know where she worked or what things made her feel significant. But when I asked her if, upon reflection, she would do anything differently in her life, she says,
'Yes. I would laugh and go barefoot more.'
I'm not 96, only 44. Maybe there is still time for me.
I wonder why I hadn't thought of this myself. But I have been very busy trying to be very busy in pursuit of fulfillment and contentment. Too busy to go barefoot on purpose, I have been busy trying to be a grown-up, doing things and making lists of things to do, hoping that at the end of all this doing there would be a reward of some sort, one that said, 'You are a really good person, and by the way, good job being busy.'
....God modeled rest for us. Genesis chapter two tells us that he laboured for six days, and on the seventh he rested. God balanced work with rest in a healthy rhythm. He created for six days, then guiltlessly ceased from his labor. He stepped back from all of it and enjoyed, or feasted, on what he had done. It wasn't that God was so exhausted that he needed a nap. He is not vulnerable to a tiring body. But he did model for us a pattern, called Sabbath, of ceasing from our labors in order to rest.
...God spoke to Moses through a bush that was burning. 'Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is hold ground.' ...Let's remember that Sabbath was the first thing God declared to be holy. He declared his work of the first six days 'good,' but he named the day of rest 'holy.' In sabbath moments, when we take the time to catch our breath, God reveals himself. And these moments are holy. So we must take off our sandals. It seems that Elsie is right - we must go barefoot more often. Make no mistake, learning to practice sabbath is a discipline. It requires a reordering of priorities to achieve rest...So I am learning to reorder priorities and schedule in sabbath time...I am taking permission to pause and rest. I am laughing more easily, and now I only buy shoes I can slip out of quickly."
I highly recommend this book by Kim Thomas called, "Even God Rested." In this book, she provides her personal story of learning about sabbath rest and also gives great 'bite-sized' tips on what to 'cease' from and what to 'feast' on.
I've literally read the book about 10 times over. In fact, I read it so much that I had to purchase two new copies! (one to lend out) The above quotes are an excerpt from the introduction.
Dearest reader, if you can relate at all to these words of Bilbo Baggins from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings..."Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread..." ...then it's time for some sabbath rest.