Walking our Faith: Tools to help us rest
Walking our Faith
I’m in Florida now, and I can finally exhale. Outside, a breeze off the Atlantic ocean rustles the palm fronds, and they make a dry clack, clack, clack sound, which lulls me toward a nap.
I rushed to be ready for this holiday, went into work on my day off to finish projects, spent every spare moment sitting at my sewing machine over the weekend finishing simple linen dresses to bear Florida’s heat and humidity.
I suppose it’s not surprising that while people come to our beautiful mountain town for rest and relaxation, those of us who live here year-round share the same tendency to push ourselves to exhaustion as our flatlander friends.
Which is why God in his infinite wisdom created Sabbath and understood the need to rest to be so critical to our health and the quality of our lives that he actually made it one of the Ten Commandments. He knew that if we weren’t commanded to rest one day a week, we would continue to work in one form or another for all seven days, as evidenced by so many Americans who never take their full allotment of vacation days.
I am as guilty as everyone else in breaking the commandment to rest as I rush right through Sabbath with a list of things I need to accomplish before Monday. Always figuring how to fit in another project, rather than rest, when I see empty space in my day.
Lately, for reasons I don’t quite understand, I’ve been waking up at 3:45 a.m., and it can take me 30 minutes or an hour to get back to sleep. My first reaction is to reach for my phone and mindlessly scroll, scroll, scroll through the news, through Instagram, looking at knitting and sewing projects to fill more of my time.
Now, instead of this mindless activity, I’m opening up the Bible app on my phone and reading that day’s chapter as I work my way through a New Testament in a Year reading plan.
I have a favorite podcast called “The Examen,” narrated by Father James Martin, which takes me through a guided spiritual review of my day modeled after a traditional Jesuit prayer to help us see where we have encountered God in our day. This guided meditation always settles my mind by grounding my thoughts and helps me to go back to sleep.
Another practice is to simply end my day earlier, getting ready for bed at the same time every night instead of running myself until I drop into bed. I put down my phone and read, even if it’s just 20 or 30 minutes.
And finally, I try to find a few minutes each day, perhaps first thing in the morning before I leave for work or in the evening when I finally sit down in my favorite chair by the fireplace. I exhale deeply, close my eyes, center my thoughts on God, and I talk with God, tell him how my day is going, thank him for giving me this life, sharing my worries. I then thank him again for all the blessings I am not conscious of until I stop and consider them, and then I just sit in silence and worship, considering the privilege it is to sit in the presence of God.
Creating these little moments of rest throughout the day, consciously carving out space and time to tell myself to rest or go to bed earlier so that my body can get the sleep it needs are beneficial to my mental and physical health. These conscious decisions ground me in the present, pulling me back from my tendency to always live in anticipation of the next thing.
But I believe it’s equally essential to our spiritual health that we find time to rest in God’s presence, to stop and remind ourselves that God is always present, always loves us. And as we rush through our day, at any moment we can stop and renew ourselves in God’s love. By implementing these practices into my daily routine, I more fully appreciate that these daily moments are where our lives are lived. I encourage you to find time this week to sit with God and experience quiet restoration and then make it part of your week.
Here’s one place to start: Free Centering Prayer Workshop led by the Denver Contemplative Outreach Center from 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday, July 27, in the Hopeful Community Room, at the Breckenridge Grand Vacations Community Center, 103 S. Harris St., Breckenridge.
Suzanne Elizabeth Anderson’s column “Walking our Faith” publishes Saturdays in the Summit Daily News. Anderson is the author of 10 novels and nonfiction books on faith. She has lived in Breckenridge since 2016. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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