We’re away in a place where “real life” ceases to be. Where the sound of the ocean is louder than the shrieks of the our children and our primary activity is staring and taking long walks on the flattest beach you’ve ever seen. The sea is alive here and each day we get to feast our eyes on a new found wild creature happily going about life in it’s natural habitat.
Sounds blissful hey? Well it is.
Over the past few days I have become an expert whale watcher. (Who knew?)
I sit with my eyes fixed on the ocean, my mind a million miles away as I gaze into the expanse of water waiting for the signs of whales in the distance. Whale watching is not very strenuous exercise, but it has highlighted to me my extreme need to see an optometrist (insert eye roll). Whale watching has in essence become my way of finding rest in the somewhat overwhelming circumstances of life. My way of tuning out of the noise and tuning in to wide open silent spaces.
Which brings me to this thought? How on this earth do we find REST today, like in real life? I’m not talking about the two holidays we take every year that our souls are starving for, but rather the weekly rhythm of rest that ensures we are inhaling and exhaling, where we allow our heart rate to slow down and recover, so that we can move forward with increased strength and agility. Is it possible to find rest in our daily lives or are we limiting it to a place outside of reality, like where I find myself now?
Call me strange, but I just can not wrap my head around the idea that we should settle into lives marked by perpetual states of exhaustion and stress. But, at the same time I don’t believe that life without work, in all its shapes and forms, would be much fun either. There’s a tension that hangs in the balance here. Between our work and rest, and somehow, I am foolish enough (perhaps) to believe that it is truly possible to learn “the art of whale watching” even as I live out my calling here on earth.
I recently preached a message about family. (You can listen here). In this message one of the ideas I spoke around was PLAY, the idea that healthy families prioritize play. Healthy families know how to stop the work and live in spaces of rest and play. I can’t help but wonder if we’ve all become a little serious in our approach to “trying” to perfect our lives here on earth. The perfect life. Job. Family. Image. We’re living like it’s actually possible to attain the perfection we desire. Are we working so hard that we are losing our lives in the process? Am I? When will I learn “the art of whale watching” amidst the plainness and mundanity of everyday life? When will I value my soul enough to pause and gaze and watch and breathe? When will I truly believe that this is possible?
I don’t know about you dear friend but I don’t want to learn this the hard and painful way.
I do not want to lose something precious to gain the understanding of the importance of rest amidst everyday life.
And so I am reading, meditating and debating with as many who will engage in the conversation. What is REAL rest? And what measures should I go to to practice rest. Because in me, there is yet again this energy to pursue a life lived fully alive. I want to know the greatest proportions of what it is to be human and to live out my humanness (if that’s even a word) in the most exquisite and exhilarating ways possible. Working and resting to the glory of God. Notice I said working AND resting to the glory of God. I believe the journey ahead looks like defining work and pursuing rest. The unglamorous and more difficult pursuit of a life lived in the full abundance of His grace. The long and arduous road of walking towards the full extent of what God has for me here on this earth.
So for now as I learn and read and ask hard questions. As I listen to wise voices who have learnt some of these things, and have much wisdom to share. I’m just staring a lot more, going for slow monotonous runs/walks, breathing in the people closest to me and waiting on the still small quiet voice that will urge me on into the next season.
A voice that sounds a lot like this —
EVEN YOUTHS GROW TIRED AND WEARY. EVEN YOUNG MEN WILL STUMBLE AND FALL BUT FOR THOSE WHO WAIT UPON THE LORD, HE WILL RENEW THEIR STRENGTH, THEY WILL RUN AND NOT GROW WEARY. THEY WILL WALK AND NOT GROW FAINT.