In January of 2013 I felt God speak to me about slowing down and Sabbathing more. About being purposeful in my restfulness in Him. (Yes, ‘sabbathing’ is a verb.)
I ordered a book, God in the Yard by Laura Barkat (TSPoetry Press) for this purpose; she graciously sent me a signed copy (and a pressed fern leaf from her yard.)
The phrase ‘Spiritual Practice’ conjured up ‘hard work’ in my mind.
It is a brave adventure, this. Committing to just sit outside and Do Nothing.
In my mind, ‘spiritual practice’ is Bible reading, Scripture memorization, prayer, journaling. Something purposeful, planned, contained…you know, disciplined.
But this spiritual practice turned out much differently than I expected.
Instead of feeling pressured to produce something–I found joy in the discipline of letting go and receiving. Learning to stop, look and listen. I learned to rest more in the realization of wonder right in front of me.
God’s timing is always perfect, which Barkat illustrates with the picture of God as a ‘divine librarian’ orchestrating the volumes we find on our shelves to speak to us just when we need it.
Barkat’s chapter prompts have questions that surprise me when I commit my answers to paper. She encourages the reader to take a ‘Sabbath on the page’ as often as possible throughout the week and just free write. The ‘free’ part of that originally left me unsettled—”wow, where could that lead, without any direction? Doesn’t sound very disciplined to me,” I thought.
Here is a discovery I made via the ‘And you?’ questions in the first chapter.
There are a couple of keys right there about how God might want to change up my thinking. Forcing myself to sit and look and listen has focused my observation on things I’ve never noticed. Phrases, pictures, words I didn’t know I had in me are welling to the surface. As I stare out at the greening world before me, parked in my chair on the deck, I’ve noticed all kinds of things:
The palette of greens (there are over 10 in the trees and shrubs within view).
Why do trees’ branches grow up? Where do the birds hide in the rain?
No wonder God wants us to get outside and play–look at this world He’s made!
I have been building a temple, a place for contemplation, and I long for my appointments with God each day.
Stitching together my Sabbaths to sit, rest, receive is becoming a practice I look forward to, a discipline that is refreshing and completing me.
How about you? How is God refreshing you in your life?