Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Exhale—and rest

As you begin a new year, are you starting it with a long to-do list, a list of projects and shoulds? Or have you built in some time for rest and restoration as well? Those don't necessarily have to be in opposition to one another. For example, as one man said, "My wife finds working in the garden restful. I prefer to simply rest in my chair, enjoying the fruits of her labor."

Many people think that rest is for children, old people or the sick. Perhaps you grew up, as I did, with the message that you should not sit and not relax until the work was done. And, of course, since I grew up on a farm, the work never was done!

But here's a thought from 20th century Trappist monk Thomas Merton: "To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects ... is to succumb to violence." And, as many people point out, even God rested after creation activities (see Genesis 2:2). In an Exodus version (31:17), it says, "In six days God made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day God rested and was refreshed." According to pastor, speaker and retreat leader Jane E. Vennard, the Hebrew word usually translated "refreshed" in that Exodus passage literally means "and God exhaled."

That's good for us to remember as we start a whole new year: Breathe in, breathe out. Remember to breathe. Take time to exhale!

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