We sat on the porch, nestled in the jewel tone shadows of our beloved Blue Ridge Mountains. I reached into our own small mountain of some of my mother’s books. A curated selection of some of her most cherished titles piled messily on a stool. And we read. My mother, my sister and I gathered in green rockers on the front porch during our Thanksgiving gathering. Mother, bundled up in a blanket to protect her from the crisp chill. And we entered into a mini-marathon of one of our favorite pastimes in this season of life. Reading to one another.
I had chosen one newer book to freshen the mix of tired favorites. An illustrated book based on Ecclesiastes 3, A Time for Everything, pairing the scriptures, page by page, with exquisite art bringing the words more fully to life. I adore the rhythm and poetic cadence of these verses. I love the substance, the significance and the swing and sway of the words as they roll of the tongue of the reader.
But what I am increasingly drawn to is the beautiful truth of this simple verse. Reading the lines outlined in these Old Testament verses, I personalize their meaning and significance in my own life, and in the life of my aging mother. I reflect on the ebb and flow of cycles and seasons, of contrasting moments.
The ordinary, the extraordinary.
The pain, the joy.
I connect the dots between Solomon’s words, his wisdom and the seasons of my very own life.
During the fall of last year, I scaled back on my writing life. This included some changes in activity associated with writing, reading and my social media presence. It was a sabbatical of sorts. And as with many changes, this one just evolved. It grew out of my circumstances, perhaps both the broken computer and the Thanksgiving and Christmas Holiday contributed to the break in habits, patterns. In how I carved up my days. My time. My life.
Now that I am decidedly on the other side of this brief sabbatical, I am able to Monday morning quarterback and begin to evaluate its benefits. I can label and name the desire to park my pen for awhile. I can feel the joy being restored. And I am beginning to be reaquainted with my passion for writing and words.
South Carolina seems to have come alarmingly close to missing Winter this year. At the least, it is very late in its arrival. We’ve been living with record highs here in the famously sunny south. How unnatural the weather has seemed. How off and wrong to be walking through the weeks leading up to Christmas with temperatures hanging out primarily in the 70’s. The order of things felt amiss. Off kilter.
The rhythm of the seasons was broken. We all noticed. One could not help but long for cool days and cooler nights to pair with all the twinkle lights of Advent.
I mentioned my sabbatical to a friend recently. She is keen and intuitive and has terrific insight in many areas. She quipped, “that was a form of self-care.” And so perhaps it was. Yes, it was a way of restoring some peace, finding my sweet-spot, re-prioritizing. It was a means to an end by which I came to feel grateful again for my love of words and my passion for writing. It came with a feeling of hope and optimism which while hard to pinpoint, feel indeed reborn.
Admittedly I felt a piece of myself missing on some days. Was I still a writer, or a fraud for ever self identifying as one. There were days I felt lazy and disobedient. Had I been called to writing by the God who created me, given the passion then let it die out?
But if resting, and breaking and entering into seasons of sabbatical are restorative, and I think they are, aren’t they an important part of the life of faith? To the life of the creative? Rest makes way for life lived abundantly, a life fully lived out, as we were intended to live.
We are coming out of a time of fullness and richness, in activities and in our diets. I know I am longing for simplicity and routine. I am eager for simpler meals and a restoration of order and pattern. My soul longs for rhythms and rhymes. For everything, there is a season. Turn. Turn.
If there is indeed a time for everything and a season for every activity, there is a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing. Our gifts, our passions, our dreams, our calling. Our ministries. And if there is a time to be silent and a time to speak, perhaps there is a time to write and a time to lay down the pen. Trusting Him in the quiet. Seeking Him in the periods of rest. For “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Indeed. And amen.
A Prayer For Healthful Change
Lord, call us to patterns and habits which reflect order and healthy living.
Give us a heart to trust you in the timing of periods of extended rest.
Help us to reach for rest knowing it restores us for serving others, in your name..
Show us how to care for ourselves and for others, well. To steward our lives with wisdom.
Bring us out of sabbatical periods, with our passions and energy restored.
And use us to shine your Light into the darkness of the world.
Lead us out of periods of rest, with hope and renewed purpose.