A Different Kind of Rest

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  (Matthew 11:28)

The faster you go, the less you see.

I’ve just come off a month-long sabbatical. I had needed to make some changes. Some of it was stress. Some of it was physical health. Some was the pressure to always do more, as if “more” is somehow “better”.

But really, these physical things were just symptoms. Symptoms of a spirit that had lost the ability to slow down. Lost the ability to see. To hear.

I was in need of a different kind of rest.

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My wife ♥Michelle and I went to Florida for the first 12 days of November. We were celebrating our 30th anniversary. Of course our anniversary is in September, so I was two months late getting us there, which goes to show you where my head had been.

Now resting the spirit is not about doing less, per se. And it’s certainly not about doing more! It’s about doing different. It’s about learning to see again.

First lesson: When you travel, you have to remember to stop. A lot.

First time walking the shores of Ft Myers Beach, I found myself in a rush to get…. where? Who knows? My spirit was stuck in overdrive. I had to learn to stop. Quite literally stop walking, and just stand there for a minute. Feel the shells under my bare feet. Including the sharp shells. A few even hurt. But it sure was better than not feeling at all. Than not noticing. I had to learn to feel again.

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If I stood still in the shallow ocean water long enough, these teeny-tiny fish would come and kiss (taste?) my feet. I know what you’re thinking: poor fish! Never would’ve noticed the teeny-tiny fish if I’d been rushing off to… where?

♥Michelle and I met a German couple who were strolling down the beach slowly with a little baby. In an apparent attempt to meet a few Americans on their travels, they were trying to make eye-contact with others as they strolled, and finding little success for the effort. As for ♥Michelle and me, we were standing still at the time, and it made all the difference. We had the most delightful conversation with them. Never would’ve spoken if we’d been rushing off to… where?

The faster you go, the less you see.

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“All it is is a bunch of plants and weird animals.”

Went to a nature preserve at Lovers Key State Park. Put my hand on a tree. Watched a teeny-tiny ant crawl on my finger for several minutes. Yes, several minutes.

We stopped to observe a gopher tortoise no more than two meters off the path. She charged us! Must’ve felt we had wandered too close. We stood still like we were supposed to. When she got near our feet, she just kept on going by, satisfied that she had taught us a lesson. How many people can say that they were charged down by a gopher tortoise in 2018?

Never would’ve happened if we were rushing off to…. where?

I read a Google review from someone who gave this very nature preserve a rating of  Poor. Their complaint? I don’t see what the big deal is. All it is is a bunch of plants and weird animals. Aaah, the layers of irony. Someone else out there needs to learn to see again. Scary thing – that review could’ve been me a couple months ago.

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Later in the month, I attended the St Anthony Park UCC church with Cousins Wendy and Greta. Really attended. Really heard the voice of an amazing pastor and teacher. Got teary twice. First time: Pastor Victoria asked the kids to name something inside the building they were most thankful for. Greta said she was thankful that I was there with them (sniff). Second time: Later, during prayers, Wendy offered thanks for my presence, not only in church but in her life (sniff, sniff). We added Cousin Clyde for brunch. Happy to let Wendy drive. I discovered Clyde’s love for BLBs (it’s a BLT, but without tomatoes, and with extra bacon). At brunch, I tried (with uneven success) to listen more than talk. Still, it was beautiful to learn to hear again.

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Later in November, it was Lake Superior for Thanksgiving with ♥Michelle and the kids and the husbands. A weekend of seeing and hearing. We also varied the menu a bit from tradition, and I learned to taste again.

It was Charles Kuralt of CBS fame who once said, Thanks to the Interstate Highway system, it is now possible to travel across the country from coast to coast without seeing anything.*  Kuralt hosted CBS’ On The Road series for many years, meeting and revealing the interesting people and places that dot America’s landscapes.

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But those Interstate freeways – those super-highways designed solely to get us from Point A to Point B, as fast as possible, with the least number of “interruptions” as possible – they leave us separated from our culture. From other people. Potentially from ourselves. Alone.

The faster you go, the less you see.

Why did it take so long to learn to rest? To see? Funny thing… on the front wall in our church, we have a large icon of Jesus Christ, holding an open book with the following phrase, Come to me all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Week in and week out at church, the answer was right in front of me. Isn’t it funny how long an answer can be right in front of your face and you don’t see it?

How patient, that icon of Jesus. Patiently looking down from that front wall, waiting for me to see again. Come to me, and I will give you rest.

Bing!

Light goes on.

The faster you go, the less you see.

It was time to rest.

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* It should be noted that a decade previous to Kuralt, John Steinbeck, having just driven one of the first Interstate super-highways, observed: “You are bound to the wheel, and your eyes to the car ahead, and to the rear-view mirror for the car behind, and the side mirror for the car or truck about to pass, and at the same time you must read all the signs for fear you may miss some instructions or orders. No roadside stands selling squash juice, no antique stores, no farm products or factory outlets. When we get these thruways across the whole country, it will be possible to drive from New York to California without seeing a single thing.”

 

3 thoughts on “A Different Kind of Rest

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  1. I think it was some Buddhist philosopher who, when asked “What is wisdom?” replied “When you are hungry, eat. When you are tired, sleep.” Speaking for myself, at least, it’s scary how out of tune we can be even with our own bodies. If we aren’t even in tune with our bodies, and our own surroundings, what are we in tune with?

    Liked by 1 person

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