Saturday, 29 March 2014

Practicing Sabbath

It's officially spring.  I am soaking in a hot bath with the window open, watching lazy snowflakes drift inside.  I settle into the quiet. I breathe.  I listen.  I let the beating of my heart accompany the spring-infused song of a lone bird on a bare branch out back.  

I admit there is a tiny, persistent voice asking me if I really deserve this luxury - this lavish gift of peaceful stillness, but I ignore it.  I resist the impulse to fill this vacant moment with something more productive than just "being."  

I choose to practice rest, to honor this gift of a moment by giving God thanks for it and by paying attention to it. This sabbath --this sacred seeing--is something I'm longing to understand more fully and practice more regularly; but it is counter to the way most of life spins around me and, therefore, it feels suspect at times.  It feels indulgent.  If feels "princess-ish."  

Still, I persist.  And in doing so, I find that my heart keeps filling with each quiet moment till I spill with gratitude and my perspective shifts in surprising ways.  The heaviness I've felt for all the hurting people in my life simply lifts.  I'm reminded that I can trust them to God...that He knows their needs and promises to be their refuge.  I can release them to his providential care and just rest.

I pay attention to this moment instead; and to the simplicity of beauty around me --the treasures of shells and rocks and driftwood I've collected along water's edge, the candle that smells like spearmint, the heart rock I found at the bottom of a stream, the  pewter letters that say "B E", the coconut shell we once broke open, drank of its milk, nourished ourselves on and then re-filled with beach-found treasures. 

I notice.  I give thanks. 

Mark Buchanan in his book The Rest of God.  Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath writes:
"this is the essence of a Sabbath heart: paying attention.  It is being fully present, wholly awake, in each moment.  It is the trained ability to inhabit our own existence without remainder, so that even the simplest things--the in and out of our own breathing, the coolness of tiles on our bare feet, the way wind sculpts clouds into crocodiles and polar bears--gain the force of discovery and revelation.  True attentiveness burns away the layers of indifference and ennui and distraction--all those attitudes that blend our days into a monochrome sameness--and reveals what's hidden beneath: the staggering surprise and infinite variety of every last little thing."(pg. 50)

I find myself hidden in the cleft of the Rock, safe and secure.  My heart rests in this quiet moment --a moment filled with beauty, birdsong and God's unspeakable peace.  

I practice Sabbath.

words and images © copyright Melody Armstrong 2014

Monday, 3 March 2014

my heart at home

within this place
I find a space...

where I am safe to be me
allowed to stand tall or fall
and nothing changes

where love is framed 
on walls along the halls
and inside arms

where there is always room
to grow and know
it's never crowded 

where there are hugs and smiles
to treasure through weather 
of changing seasons

where peace is not a stranger
where living is forgiving
and hearts heal

words and images © copyright Melody Armstrong 2014