It is dark. Early morning dark but even the earliest light has not crept to the horizon yet. I am sitting under the patter of raindrops on the porch roof, birds chirping their pre-dawn song, the hush of rain beating the leaves like a soft percussion in the background. It is nothing but sounds in the dark. My own symphony to keep my quiet.
And it has been quiet. The kind of quiet that maybe was needed, from all the sounds of life and connectivity and work. So I've been thinking about rest. The kind that empties you of your burdens and fills you up to head out and face them again. The rain washes over me this morning and I revel in the calming comfort of these earthy sounds that somehow bring their own kind of restoring to our bodies that too are made from the dust. I sit with the rain and the morning symphony and thank God for all this good he has made.
We are "home" now, at our home away from home-- which means we are traveling, but returning. It is a sweet and strange in-between place-- to be brought back to the familiar in people and country and place, but to be on the edge of it in a transient sort of way, and also removed from the life and space we have carved out in another land. Still, it is good and we settle easily into the contours of these comforts we know so well.
But, rest. The kind we need in order to head back into the fray... will we find it here? And how can we find it back there too? I've been thinking and reading, wanting to look at the way we order our lives to see if there are things we could learn that would help us do this better. In Andy Crouch's new book, "The Tech-Wise Family," there are some thoughtful ideas to ponder. At one point, Crouch writes about work/rest versus toil/leisure, the latter being more often our experience in these modern times. Is our work more like toil? Because we don't rest from it properly? And our rest more like leisure, which fails to fuel us again?
In the search for rest, I sort of fell into a window of opportunity without even trying. The day before we boarded a plan back to the U.S., I lost my phone. It's the first time I've ever done that and it was given to me unexpectedly, so naturally I felt devastated and sickened by the cost, as well as the loss of connectivity and ease of access to information. But when the dust settled, somewhere behind my panicked responses, I had the thought that this could also be a gift. A gift of rest, or of a space of time to be present to things I need more than the connectivity or communication or information ease. And five days into that hallowed out space, I am finding it filled with hidden, unbidden treasures.
Often when we land on this side of the world, I jump right into the consumption that beckons everywhere, with our list of Home-country needs. It's a rush of ease and delight at shopping in familiar stores with things I actually like and all in a language I can understand. But it also drives me away from my family, and from a mindset of restraint and contented pleasures, from the restorative presence of nature and the slow, people-centered rhythm of conversation, listening, and resting from wants and needs. So this year, I purposed to spend that first week back away from the stores and the computer, away from spending money and into spending time. Time sitting and being near the earth and the people I love.
And I'm finding that there is much to gain and very little to lose.