Sunday, July 12, 2009

Taking a load off…

Growing up in Colorado, I slightly resented that “Paradise,” to the mind of many, required sun and beaches. You see, for this mountain dweller, I could never believe that the best place in the world (i.e. Paradise) had no skiing. It just made no sense. When asked to picture Heaven, I imagined greeting St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, saying, “Thanks for your hospitality,” and then immediately proceeding to the Heavenly Rental Shop to get some good ski boots. In other words, Paradise for me was an active place, with two feet of fresh snow, burning leg muscles and short lines at the chair lift. I know that many others would conceive of something very different, but that’s alright. It means fewer crowds in our respective Paradises!

So what do you picture when you picture Paradise? Or to ask that question a little differently, what, better than anything else, would help you achieve Rest? I’m sure you’ve guessed where this question comes from- my having just returned from a honeymoon in Panama. To provide basic answers; Yes, we had a wonderful time; Yes, we went to the beach, twice, and although it wasn’t sunny the entire week (it’s currently ‘winter’ in Panama, if you can call it that…), it was lovely nevertheless; alas, No, I didn’t go skiing. But it was a great vacation all the same. And I am rested, rejuvenated and ready to rejoin Minnesota life. With a new wife and new last name. Awesome.

And all that travel and newness suggested something about ‘Rest’ that I hadn’t considered during my ski rabbit childhood- It may be as much about who you’re with than where you’re at or what you’re doing. I won’t push that too far, since again we all find ‘Rest’ differently. Still, it’s worth pondering the thought that lounging at the beach may feel lonely to some, while skydiving with your best friend from childhood may be the epitome of calm for others (not me, but hey, it’s possible). Rest is a funny thing that way. You can’t predict it for everyone you meet, but you know it when you see it.

It’s also something many people find elusive, myself among them. I did something these past two weeks that I haven’t done in years: for that entire time, I did not send one email. Some of you may think, “Eh, not a big deal,” but for me, that’s quite an accomplishment. Sure, it had something to do with my not being in the country for seven of those days, but it was more than that. This behavior was intentional. I wanted to not do things associated with planning, or with work, or with…, and just sit back with my new wife and rest! I knew that email and computers would pull my attention away, so we left that stuff at home. It wasn’t easy. It took some external prompting and support. But it was nice. I feel rested. For others, it’s not computers or email that keeps them from resting, it’s their planner, or the phone, or letters they still need to write, or housework left undone, or… you name it. Like I said, many of us have a tough time letting go and taking a load off. I get it.

Remember that odd passage at the end of Matthew 11, where Jesus says, “Come to me, all who are weary…and I will give you rest…for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light”? That passage always confused me; burden and light just don’t seem to go together. But this honeymoon insight about ‘rest and the company you keep’ makes me reconsider Jesus’ words. Perhaps it’s not what we do as Jesus’ disciples that makes for Rest and light burdens; it’s the people we do it with. Or the nearness of God as we do it. Hence, we cultivate an active prayer life, and stay connected to church community.

So let me ask the question again, but change it ever so slightly: Who, better than anyone else, helps you achieve Rest? May you reconnect with that person soon. In all things,

Grace and Peace,