On the first morning after a carefree holiday break, when getting dressed out of pajamas is no longer an option, I realize my resistance about returning to life as a responsible adult isn’t about lack of motivation or dread about work. The heaviness about resuming predictable schedules comes from a lack of rhythm.

Stumbling down narrow, winding steps toward the kitchen, wood creaks under bare feet, cracking open the stillness hovering over all three floors of the house.  Reaching the bottom floor, light spills from a lamp on the desk in the kitchen, preset to turn on before the sun rises.

Anchoring fingers around the black knob on the lid of the tea kettle, I pry it loose and water glugs from a glass bottle, filling the empty metal cavern.  The tinny crescendo of heat on metal transforms what is cold into a warm, bubbly welcome.

A red teapot warms under a cozy steeping with Red Rose tea bags, a Christmas gift from my Canadian mother-in-law.

Resolutions

Dipping a knife into a jar of Hellman’s, I spread a glob of mayo on two pieces of whole wheat toast, layer bacon, slices of cheddar and then cut the sandwich in two pieces. Breakfast for my son stays inside the microwave until I hear the stairs creak again with his footsteps descending; a cue he is showered, wearing his school uniform and ready to fill an empty stomach.

From a cozy chair in the corner of the dining room with a blanket over my lap, I stare out the window as time ticks, birds trill, and ivy flutters on the wall with a gust of wind.

I haven’t practiced listening to the silence since decorating the Christmas tree and filling our guest rooms.   

While resolutions for a New Year with a clean slate of endless possibilities sound alluring, a rhythm of silence is the rudder keeping thoughts and intentions on course.

In a busy world that prescribes more – more exercise, more diets, more involvement in community, more engagement on social media, more ways to make money, more education, and more resources for  ramping up productivity – it might surprise you to know that a rhythm of daily silence and weekly Sabbath is making a (quiet) comeback.

From This is Your Brain on Silence, Daniel Gross writes, “In recent years researchers have highlighted the peculiar power of silence to calm our bodies, turn up the volume on our inner thoughts, and attune our connection to the world. Their findings begin where we might expect: with noise. The word “noise” comes from a Latin root meaning either queasiness or pain.”

Read the headlines, talk to your neighbors, mentor a college student, and discover a similar truth: we experience pain, not as an exception but rather, as a normal part of our humanity. And the way to conquer pain is in finding Jesus’ still, small voice above the noise.

Screen Shot 2016-01-10 at 9.27.57 PM

Recent neuroscience research reveals that “freedom from noise and goal-directed tasks, it appears, unites the quiet without and within, allowing our conscious workspace to do its thing, to weave ourselves into the world, to discover where we fit in. That’s the power of silence.”

Maybe you’ve just experienced a joyful holiday season punctuated with days of rest and the thought of revisiting mundane practicality makes you feel tired, heavy, and lifeless. Perhaps you feel a bit guilty for feeling restless?

“Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ’s love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture.” (Romans 18:31-39, MSG)

Replace resolutions with rhythms of rest this year and find peace, wholeness, and direction in God’s love for you. Jesus is our example.

As Jesus’ popularity and ministry grew so did His responsibilities. And the way He responded to the noise of life was to seek silence — in the wilderness (Luke 5:15-16), on a mountain (Luke 6:12), and secluded places (Luke 4:42) – for prayer and listening.

Florence Nightingale was on to something when she wrote, “Unnecessary noise is the most cruel absence of care that can be inflicted on the sick or well.”

When perspective becomes slanted and days are disoriented; when emotions are out of sorts and your heart feels heavy, rhythms reorient toward what matters most amidst the noise of life.

Maybe you don’t have the luxury of going somewhere quiet for long periods of reflection but you can find a spot to sit and stare out the window while your kids are eating breakfast. In the same way you start your day with a predictable routine, incorporate three minutes a day to listen to your heart and hear what God is saying.

Replace resolutions with rhythms of rest and what you discover may be the biggest surprise of the New Year.

 

Some questions for you:

How can you begin to incorporate small windows of time for Sabbath? What are the obstacles keeping you from incorporating rest as a lifestyle? What are some of the ways you’ve experienced greater connection with God and your surroundings through the practice of silence?

Shelly Miller / Posts / Blog
Shelly Miller is a veteran ministry leader and sought-after mentor on Sabbath-keeping. She leads the Sabbath Society, an online community of people who want to make rest a priority, and her writing has been featured in multiple national publications. Her first book, Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World, will release with Bethany House Publishers in the fall of 2016 with a second launching in 2017 with Lion Hudson. Find more of Shelly’s writing on her blog, Redemptions Beauty, and connect on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where she loves to share photos of the beautiful places she visits while living as a committed immigrant in London.
  • Lynn D. Morrissey

    Shelly, it sounds as if you are settling back into the rhythms of routine after all your guests have gone back to rhythms of their own after lovely Christmas gatherings and activities. I love the idea of replacing resolutions (in the sense that most people mean them–you know those militaristic pull-up-your-bootstraps kind of demands they place on themselves) with the rhythms of rest. I’m thinking one could be resolved to rest as well . . . so some kind of intentions are good, but the kind that *you* intend are restorative. As you link the concepts of rhythm and rest, I couldn’t help but think of this marvelous quote, which I once shared w/ you, by classical pianist Artur Schnabel: “The notes I handle no better than many pianists. But the pauses between the notes – ah, that is where the art resides.” There is nothing more rhythmic than music; yet for music to be clear, expressive, and climactic, it must include rests–the absence of sound. These rests are just as necessary for beautiful music as the notes, the sounds, themselves. If music were nothing but constant sound, it would either become monotonous or cacophonous. Think of that pregnant pause before the final Hallelujah in Handel’s magnificent chorus. It’s that breathtaking rest that makes the climax the most jubilant, most glorious possible. I think that is what Sabbath rest has done for you, in both your life and your work. As you incorporate the rhythm of rest, I sense that you are experiencing likely the most glorious time of your life. I sense that the rhythm of rest has drawn you closer than ever to the Lord. Thank you for inviting us to the table with you to feast on Him in rest.
    Love
    Lynn

    January 13th, 2016 0:12
    Reply
    01
    • Shelly Miller
      http://redemptionsbeauty.com

      Thank you Lynn, I love that quote and the way you brought life to it with your words.

      January 13th, 2016 17:03
      Reply
      02
  • Mary
    Mary
    http://www.marybonner.net

    Shelly,

    I have learned so much from you about rest and Sabbath and quiet. I remember being on the sidelines watching you write and discuss Sabbath thinking there was no way I could do that. One day I e-mailed you and said I didn’t think I could do it “right” and you responded with something like “do what you can, do what works for you. Sabbath doesn’t look the same for everyone.” It was then that I realized that quiet and stillness can be incorporated at different times and in different ways.

    In the last few months my lifestyle has changed drastically and I no long work outside the home. I have large windows of time when it is just me and quiet. I have learned to see His presence in the rustle of the leaves as I look out the large family room windows or in the quiet of the falling snow…both evidence of a God that loves me and meets me in just the way I need him to…when I need him to. These quiet moments lend themselves to quiet conversations with God – sometimes I talk, sometimes he does but all the times are special.

    The best thing I’ve learned through this process is to be faithful even when I can’t see the outcome. While that is hard for me, it is always best for me! I recently shared some thoughts about it in this post: http://marybonner.net/when-you-need-to-cut-the-rope/

    Thank you for this lovely reflection.

    January 13th, 2016 7:36
    Reply
    03
    • Shelly Miller
      http://redemptionsbeauty.com

      Mary, it’s been so fun to witness the ah-ha moments people experience with the realities of Sabbath. Your experience is a gift to me, thank you for spelling it here.

      January 13th, 2016 17:04
      Reply
      04
  • Christie Purifoy
    http://www.christiepurifoy.com

    Wonderful words for the new year. Thank you, Shelly. Also, I loved this glimpse into your new home. How I’d love to come for a visit!

    January 13th, 2016 8:06
    Reply
    05
  • Shelly Miller
    http://redemptionsbeauty.com

    Oh Christie, how I would love to have you come visit. Put it on your bucket list!!

    January 13th, 2016 17:05
    Reply
    06
  • Leah Adams
    http://leahadams.org

    “Rhythms of rest”…..I love that. ‘Rest’ is my One Word for 2016…a word that, initially, I pouted about, but now I embrace. This post spoke deeply to my heart as I seek to journey into whatever the Lord has for me in this One Word….Rest. I imagine it will be far more and better than I could ever hope.

    January 14th, 2016 7:33
    Reply
    07
    • Shelly Miller
      http://redemptionsbeauty.com

      Leah, “Rhythms of Rest” is the title of my first book due to publish in the fall! So, I’m glad you like it!! Praying that you fully enter his rest this year. If you aren’t already part of the Sabbath Society, join the community for encouragement toward rest here: http://redemptionsbeauty.com/sabbath-society/

      January 14th, 2016 9:13
      Reply
      08
  • SimplyDarlene
    SimplyDarlene
    http://www.SimplyDarlene.com

    That “freedom from noise” research quote is a powerful punctuation to the emotional and spiritual components that you expanded upon… thanks to having first read this yesterday morning, instead of sitting through 2 full hours of my son’s Taekwondo classes (with very loud music), I retreated to a corner of a nearby quiet bistro yesterday.

    Blessings.

    January 14th, 2016 20:25
    Reply
    09

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *