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Real Rest and the Specter of the Day

Real rest? Conundrum at best, conflicting at very least. Elusive, ghostly… and so underrated. The treasure of rest you can’t afford to ignore, and truly don’t want to miss. There is peace to be had for free.

A. J. Heschel opened my eyes to rest. Delicious wordsmithery, his; straight and true as an arrow, earthily, flesh-ily agrarian. He painted a picture of Sabbath rest, its massive import and impact, spotlighting my abject naivete.

Real rest, it turns out, is a linchpin, a sylvan thread that suspends us in time and space, the basic dimensions of our earthly existence. Presented by our maker with solemnity, cadenced rest is as key to man’s life as water, oxygen, food. Sabbath rest isn’t dropped without cacophony, or wrenching the whole fine-tuned machine. But what is it?

My every day, my boots-on-the-ground life, is set to race and rest by a clock which stares me (maddeningly) in the face (or so I allow). Life set to ticking time is what sabbath rest is not. Ignore time, though, and I’m sick-ly consumed by the “stuff” filling space, left limping when time catches up with me.

Sun-and-moon’s interlacing work– burning, beaming, reflecting, shadowing- starts and ends our day, ticks off “time left” in the race, so we think. Day is the broad, enlightening sweep; night, the encircling of light-swallowing robes close around what we can see, and (so we think) can do.

We plough through hours as mice through a maze, death on their tails, packs piled high on their backs (ridiculous, mice with tethers round their bellies!). We cram full day indiscriminately, stretching its edges into night like pizza stretched too thin, leaking health, perspective, even love through holes we try to patch or ignore.

Night, day, night day; rhythmic heartbeat of the realm of man. Night, day; night day. Every seven times around we’re meant to break free- to be still in time, untouched by things that fill space.

I saw the leak of things precious to me, and the hemorrhage threatening. I thought to seal the leaky edges, hold close to me what I was set to lose. (I’d been there before- lost nearly everything and everyone of vast worth to me). I set my heart to stop this race at once, turn and face down the fiery poker at my tail, aflame with insinuated demands. Roaring of voiceless inanimate objects, values that weren’t my own. It was a mere specter. I stepped out of its way– out of the maze, into the wide, calm blue.

White noise barrage of lesser things muffled, I can hear the rhythm of life: Night, day; night, day, seven times night, day.

Not always easy, the oft-lonely pursuit of peace and pith, purer motive, and a life-giving pace. But I tell you it is worth it. Earthy and fruiting life flows from sylvan-cord balance where rhythmic rest- Sabbath rest– is engaged. Maybe you need a strong hand of rescue, as I once did, but maybe you’ll do it on your own. Invite the white space, welcome the pause; the peace your Maker intended awaits. Do it; you will never look back.

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