I brew a cup of Darjeeling, then slather a toasted sourdough English muffin with butter. I spoon on some homemade strawberry freezer jam, enough to drip down my chin when I take a bite. The white wooden porch swing hangs from rusted chains and creak-squeaks as I settle into it. It’s hot already, but it’s dry, and there’s a nice breeze from the west.
I plan to sit just long enough to eat. I have a lot to do, and sitting won’t accomplish it.
But I’m mesmerized by the way the light plays on the maples. The Russian olive smack in front of the porch, its leaves sway graceful. Its branches spread out over the roof and across the driveway, dip low as if to kiss the gravel.
An awe wave overwhelms me, and I must go touch these trees, rub roughness of bark, run fingers down fissures.
And, yes, hug them.
I marvel at the chlorophyll-laden organs and try to imagine the hidden work that hums in their waxy thinness, that vibrates within their veins. How did God think of photosynthesis? I wonder if He clapped His hands and giggled with glee as He completed each new work of art.
I wonder if He giggled and clapped His hands when He made me.
I notice more lately. Shapes and colors and textures and smells. A garter snake that slides along the foundation, a lime green tree frog that hides in the gate slats, a gleaming dark gray mouse that creeps from under the periwinkle carpet to sneak a black oil sunflower seed, a cabbage butterfly that flits over the side yard gone wild.
I notice how everything looks new when seen in new light.
I look out over the field. We need rain. The corn is dying of thirst. Dull green leaves curl in on themselves, some brown and brittle. Our shares pay the land taxes. I sense a fret rising.
And my to-do list looms large.
So I stop.
And inhale the fragrance of white jasmine, of fresh-planted patriot petunias.
“Be still, and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10)
I’ve been pondering this verse for weeks—no, months.
This slowing down.
This being over doing.
This knee-sinking surrender to Elohim—Creator and Artistic Designer. He who reigns and holds the reins. Who infuses us with strength in our own thinness.
The Amplified says, “Let be and be still.”
Mark Buchanan in The Rest of God writes, “In a culture where busyness is a fetish and stillness is laziness, rest is sloth. But without rest, we miss the rest of God.”
I walk around this word. Reach out to caress its double meaning. It’s not just the rest He delights to give His beloved–the physical rest when we close our eyes or the mental and spiritual rest when we lay down our frets and just climb into His lap. But it’s, as Buchanan puts it, “the rest of God—the things of God’s nature and presence we miss in our busyness.” The intimate and deeper knowledge of Him, all of Him, each facet of His being.
Buchanan goes on to say, “Some knowing is never pursued, only received. And for that, you need to be still.”
I think about all those errands and chores that beckon, but I brush them off with the muffin crumbs, crumple the napkin, and stack the dishes. I carry them inside and set them on the kitchen counter right next to my to-do list. I leave my cell phone there, too, and return to the porch. I give the swing a gentle push and curl myself into it.
And there I stay.