No, really. No work, not even a whisper, crept into life today.
For the first time since I attended a junior high school lock-in, I slept until nearly 10 a.m. I survived a long-overdue hair appointment. I shared lunch with my sister-in-law, whom I haven’t seen in five months. I sat outside. I read. I watched the trees blow in the wind, and I swear I saw the leaves change colors.
I sat still.
Today I went to a bookstore. I walked the aisles, searching for nothing at all. I ordered a chai latte and drank it outside, with no place to go. There, I overheard two young men discussing God’s grace. And I wondered about the last time I sat outside a bookstore and discussed God’s grace or what’s really going on in my life or where I’ve seen God at work. Because, let’s be real, most days, I’m too busy, or lazy, for that: I wake up, make coffee and follow my rag-tag routine. I go to the office, respond to emails, check items off lists, make plans, talk on the phone, catch-up with ministry partners, wonder about what’s next, worry about money.
I heard the voice of my only brother who lives on the opposite side of the state. Today I didn’t just read his words from a text; I didn’t just follow him on Twitter. I heard his voice. We shared multiple conversations. I made fun of him. He returned the favor. We spent an entire afternoon in the same city, the same space. That’s rare. We shared dinner together, attended a concert together. And when we got home, we stretched out on separate couches and fell asleep waiting on my sister-in-law to return from work. When she arrived, she promptly woke us up from our identical sleeping positions and called us “grandpa” and “grandma.” “You two are so related,” she said, rolling her eyes.
I often underestimate the need for rest. Because I work seven days a week, and I’ve learned to make life work on little sleep, constant motion and insanity, I’ve convinced myself I don’t need rest. I am young, I can make it work. And then I find myself sick, stretched out on the couch for a week, wondering why I’m so tired. We trick ourselves into ignoring God’s simple instruction: rest.
My head tells my heart, “Who needs rest? I’m too busy ministering.” I imagine God, (when I’m honest with myself) sighing in reply, “Oh, please, enough already with your empty, selfless sacrifices. Even I rest.”
Yes, today I saw God moving, changing one season to the next. Maybe more importantly, today I saw God resting. And I rested too.
Catherine Bahn is co-director of Together for Hope -Arkansas, part of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s rural poverty initiative, Helena, Arkansas.