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

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