I envy people who can fall asleep anywhere.
I glare at unworried souls stretched out across airport seats, snoozing away. Don’t they have a plane to catch?
Not me. I am the Princess and the Pea. I have a bedtime ritual—fan cranked up loud (White Noise app: genius travel invention), only a certain familiar pillow will do, and a soothing Jane Austen-ish read. As I hit the window into dreamland, total darkness is a must.
Jesus and Rest
Jesus could fall asleep anywhere. One time on a boat with his disciples in the midst of a spew-your-lunch storm, Jesus curled up and napped. And this enviable ability to nap may have stemmed from his understanding of the deeper meaning of the word “rest.” If I knew that I had only thirty-three years to live, I’d be in a frenzy to get my to-do list done or at least a few bucket list items checked off, reasoning, “Hey, I’ll relax in heaven.” Not Jesus. He often climbed up a hill or sat on a rock just to be alone or pray. He even invited his disciples to join him: “Come away with me to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31).
Rest, or Sabbath rest, as the Bible sometimes describes it, entails more than the ability to doze off easily. A.W. Tozer wrote, “Rest is not something we do, it is what comes to us when we cease to do.” And yet for me, “ceasing to do” takes effort.
Resting is Hard Work
I don’t know about you, but peace and quiet aren’t natural parts of my lifestyle. Yet I know I need to unplug. In her book Invitation to Solitude and Silence, Ruth Haley Barton quotes Wayne Muller’s warning, “Because we do not rest, we lose our way.” In Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership, she writes, “There is an energy that comes from being rested that is different from the energy that comes from being driven.” So how do we include soul-restoring times in our lives? It sounds ridiculous, but I have to plan to do nothing. If I have to type the word “rest” to fill a few time slots on my calendar, so be it.
Change the View
My sister lives in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In the summer, her windows are open, and quiet is what you hear. The view from her porch swing is green serenity. I, on the other hand, am a city girl, which makes quiet a bit trickier to come by.
For me, true soul-rest happens best outside. When I think ahead, instead of eating lunch in front of my laptop, I plop down on the bench that no one uses outside my office building.
When I have more time, I love to grab a quilt and my well-worn Bible (you know, the kind made of paper, and you turn actual pages) and head to a park, or in a pinch, my own backyard. I lie back, breathe deeply, recite favorite verses, or just look up at clear blue sky. If I happen to doze off, how restful is that?
A contributor with the Redbud Writers Guild (redbudwritersguild.com), Lesa Engelthaler, who attended DTS, resides in Dallas, Texas.