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.
Of course He giggled and clapped His hands when He made you. Just as I did when I met you. This is lovely, Sandy.
I’m dizzy with joy knowing that we get to hang for a few days together on the Frio this fall. 🙂
Oh, me too! Me too!
You will love this place–Laity Lodge. I hope it does a little in you of what it did in me. 🙂
This is gorgeous writing Sandy. I felt the day sitting there with you on the porch (and I wanted to wipe your chin for you). I’m in this same place of wanting to linger, take it all in, noticing things like I was blind and now I’m seeing for the first time. And that Buchanan, he’s one of my all-time favorites. Love that book, I re-visit it often.
Thank you, friend. It seems there are a lot of us across cyberspace who are in this same place right now. It’s like a grand reopening.
(You’re going to use my napkin, right? You’re not going to spit on your thumb?)
Oh my. And now I’m pushing up my own jaw.
I’m reading Barbara Brown Taylor. She has me walking around my backyard in slow circles. Barefoot. Because, of course, every place is holy ground. If we only pay attention. I hope my neighbor, Maxine, understands this.
I can’t believe I wasn’t familiar with her until you mentioned her over at your place. Crazy, huh? But I’m reading her words now. And I’m smitten.
I know the neighbors think my behavior is a little questionable when I move around the yard in my jammies snapping pictures of–I’m sure they have no clue. And Grace told me the folks across the yard have wondered if I’m taking pictures of them when my camera is trained in their direction. I’m glad I have people here in this space and others who understand me. At least partially. 🙂
I so love BBT – and have for about 15 years. Read everything she’s ever published in book form. The two memoirs are grand. And the sermons? On my, just breathtaking. So glad some of my favorite people are meeting each other.
Oh, so lovely, Sandy. This is my cutting edge, so to speak. Stillness. Watchful attention. Calm, steady, quiet. Ahhh….
A calm and quiet center in the midst of what often feels like–is–chaos. That’s my longing.
Really really beautiful, Sandy. Wow. This really stirs things in me, I’ve been pondering for weeks. Thank you for this gift.
Thank you so much, Kris. Now I’m thinking of this big giant spoon that gently stirs our hearts, our souls–lets all that sediment settle to be sifted out. 🙂
You are a GREAT writer. Keep sitting still. Really good stuff is coming out of that place. Love ya.
Smiling big here, Jennifer. 😀
Wise, wise woman! You make rest sound like the most attractive thing in the world.
It’s 11:30, and I’ve just come back from the fair, and hanging with an adrenalin-ride-rushed grand girl, and the most attractive thing in the world sounds like rest! 🙂
Such wisdom in your words…yes, to be still enough to receive what He longs to give us…and it is not sloth – I keep reminding myself…thank you, Sandra 🙂
I keep reminding myself of that, too, Dolly. And yet how else can we expect to hear His still small voice?
And this is why I love your writing so much….you force me to see.
You open my eyes, too, Kim.
When we are too busy for God, we miss out on the most important relationship in our lives. Thank you, Sandy, for reminding us to be still and know, once again, who He is.
True that, Martha. How can we spill love if we don’t take time to fill? All our best relationships hinge on our relationship with Him.
With you, I sit in this holy place.
With you, and God.
Love this, love you, Sandra.
Even cyberspace holds sacred spaces. So glad we can sit together with Him because of it. Looking forward to that face-to-face meeting on the Frio or in Iowa or in Michigan or somewhere else. (Did you ever tell your mom I adopted you?)
I’m so far behind in all of my reading, Sandra…and just now read this. So beautiful. Truly. xox
I am, too, Patricia. So far. And I’m missing out. Thank you. xo