Sunday, April 15, 2012

Deep Breath

As a little girl, our family lived in a yellow house with a white picket fence, and a long, steep driveway leading to a big backyard. The dirt under the apricot tree was dark and cool, and the swing set sat next to it in the sun, squeaky and made of metal.

My dad built towers out of the wooden blocks, and I would get a running head start to knock them down. There was gravel on a slope leading down to the horse I named Blackie, on the path where I walked with my mom, and I was always a little afraid to slide down that slope. And down the street was a boy named Billy, who had big Great Danes, and a straight, grassy yard.

I know not everyone had a perfect, sunny childhood... but most people can at least remember back to moments of rest, peace, and long summer days with nothing to do. It's part of the innocence of being a kid that allows us to play, explore, and just be without planning, scheduling or scheming.

It's sad that we so easily find importance in having a packed schedule. Having one of those nebulous jobs that depend on the donations of others, I often feel the need to prove myself as a worthy investment by always appearing busy. It's almost seen as a sign of failure to stay home on a Saturday night and simply do nothing, when there's so much out there to see & do & eat (especially eat).

I mentioned before that we are trying to establish a rhythm with our family & in our home. To be honest, we haven't quite made the progress I had hoped for at this point, but one thing we are intentionally building into our weekly rhythm is a Sabbath. I've been reading this book about the importance of rest, of breathing, of carving out a sacred time to be restored, to reflect. It's not just a time to be lazy or do nothing, but a sort of deep breath that prepares us to act & move, and go about our weeks & our lives with a little more purpose, clarity & centered-ness.

The plan, for now, is to have a restful Sunday morning, pack a picnic, and ride our bikes to church. From there, we can go outdoors somewhere (weather permitting), have lunch, play, run, explore, and simply touch dirt & grass instead of concrete. After lunch is Nolan's nap time, and it's a pretty luxurious thing to have a quiet afternoon where we can sleep, read, tinker with bikes, or just connect with each other. Our hope is that Sunday evenings can include a big pot of simple soup, and an open door to anyone who wants to join our family for a meal.

Today, after church, some good friends that we have been wanting to spend time with for ages invited us out to lunch, and I sadly declined, wanting to stick to our plan for rest & family time. We went to the beach, ran in the sand, threw rocks, and walked along the Great Highway, watching the families ride their bikes. Then we drove up to a little coffee shop offering free pastries (thank you, Scoutmob!), came home & took a nap. Soup simmered on the stove inside while we all (Nolan included) went outside and did some gardening (well, more like gardening prep work) in the yard, and we ate dinner with a short reading from the book of Common Prayer.

It was kind of fabulous. No, not glamorous or exciting, but quite wonderful. It was interesting to see how much intentionality it took to unplug, to rest, to choose activities that were restorative rather than entertaining, and to just be present with one another.

This next week is going to be intense, and as I look ahead at my calendar, I can see a lot of business, travel, long days (and nights), and some potential stress. I am interested to see the ways that a day of rest, built into my weekly activity & work, will effect my heart & mind & countenance.

There is often a tiny sense of loss on a Sunday night, knowing that the weekend is slipping by, and that tomorrow will be Monday. Usually I stay up too late, indulging in Pinterest, Facebook, blogs & other distractions to try to procrastinate from the responsibilities of the week. But tonight I feel centered, peaceful, even ready.

There is something about slowing down that allows you to notice the details, and to live in a moment, rather than in a plan for the next activity. Maybe that's why I can remember the feel of the dirt along the path we walked from our yellow house, or the squeak of the blue, metal swing set. There's nothing particularly important about that path, or that swing, except that I was allowed to just be-- to be present in my own skin, to be unconcerned about my responsibilities, to live. We don't do that often enough anymore-- but I guess the point is that we can.

1 comment:

Aaron S. said...

True, restorative, and productive rest is one of those things that is "easier said than done," but it's nice to hear that, with some effort, it can be done.

I really admire and enjoy your writing, Christine. Just felt I should say so. ;-)