Monday, February 23, 2015


So, I have this goal to read the entire Bible (I never have) and was slogging through this part in Leviticus about feasts and laws. There was a lot to it, but what jumped out at me was that every seven years the Israelites were supposed to let the land rest. They weren't supposed to harvest it. And every 50 years, basically all debts were cancelled and it was a big party. And then, of course, not far from that section is the commandment to keep the Sabbath.

I sat and chewed on that. We are commanded to rest. We are commanded to rest. That's not a suggestion.

This point has really hit home over the past 10 days or so, which, without mincing words, was fantastically crummy. Never mind that we are mired in the coldest February ever and the snow is so deep the kids can no longer go out to play. But then everybody got sick, and then I got sick again, and everyone was home for the better part of a week with nowhere to go, and people wouldn't stop whining, and I felt too sick to try to pick up so the house became a disaster, and the list goes on and on.

Both older kids, when they came down with a stomach bug, plunged into this period of deep, deep sleep where you could almost see their little bodies work to rejuvenate themselves. They woke up vastly improved.

I, on the other hand, caught a secondary virus, and I'm pretty sure it has something to do with never getting enough sleep.

But this isn't just about sleep. This is about rest. This is about being still.

This is, I feel, a chronic problem in our society. I am wondering how to get past it.

I don't think our bodies were meant to flit about the way they do. Have you noticed how jittery most of us are? We need our "fixes." We need our coffees and a jolt as we see how many Facebook notifications we have. We need to see something, read something, hear something. We need feedback or to spout an opinion.

What happens when it's silent? Do we feel empty? Do we feel we have to fill it? Do we know how to stop? Do we know how to stop our minds?

I know I don't.

I wonder sometimes, what it would be like to live in a time when you rose and went to bed with the sun. When on Sundays, nothing was open and you went to church; had a meal; visited with friends. When there were no screens to stare at. When we weren't bombarded by stimulation at every turn.

There's a reason we are commanded to rest. We aren't meant to live like this. At least not to the extent that we are these days.

So what can we do?

Every person is different, I know there are some who aren't as affected, who have an easier time resting and being calm and just thinking about one thing at a time.

I am not one of those people.

I don't have many answers yet, but I know there are habits I can practice, that I need to practice.

Like focusing on one task at a time.

Like being fully present when one of my kids is talking.

Like not checking online all the time to see what's up.

Like not having to have the radio on in the car when I'm alone.

Like going to bed at a reasonable hour rather than staying up and staring at something I didn't even want to watch on TV.

Like actually taking in the world around me rather than just blowing past it all, talking on the phone, flipping dials on the radio, and admonishing the kids to stop bickering.

The other day Ethan and I were in the car, and even though he was just getting a haircut I was so gloriously happy to be out of the house and to see the sun shining. As I rounded a corner, the sun hit the ice on a group of maple trees spread along the shores of the Connecticut River. The perfect angle made them all glitter like diamonds.

When we slow down, when we rest and become less harried, I wonder -- just how many treasures will we uncover?

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