Rest requires that we be who we are and nothing else. A life built upon Sabbath is content because in rhythms of rest we discover our time is full of the holiness of God.

~Shelly Miller, Rhythms of Rest

If May almost did me in, June was trying to finish me off. Our family schedule had been a spanking, and I was still unsure of what all we had done wrong. And like any child given a too-harsh punishment, I was left crossed-arm pouting in the corner at the sheer injustice of soccer tournaments and kids’ birthday parties and the soft state of my body I hadn’t had one minute to work on before swim season.

The world is a drive-through window, and I have always been more of a crockpot.

Evidence of this was stacking up faster than the unopened mail on the hall table and piles of clean unfolded laundry and too many fast food cups in the recycle bin.

I know how rested my heart is by the state of my kitchen. It’s usually a hallowed space for my family to laugh and heal, make meals and memories together. Clear jars full of wild colors dot every counter as souvenirs from idle walks through the flower garden. The kids paint and talk to me from the table as I work at the sink or the girls join me in matching aprons while we play with our food.

But tender things like play and beauty tend to be crushed under the heavy boulder of seasons in survival mode.

And we keep piloting on auto, wake up, scroll the feed, repeat. Everyone says we must put on our big underwear, keep it together, and post likable pictures about all of it along the way.

I’m a frayed knot, said the Rope.

I begin to think something is wrong when I tell my friend over the phone one morning about a little soul ache, “I don’t have time to cry about this today.”

My heart sits in my chest tender as a bruised peach, and all I want to do is get my apron dirty again. And perhaps read in the sun.

***

There’s a begonia out on the back deck I fight with often. All the plants and all my gardens are able to go the regular days without water. Waiting patiently, perhaps indifferently, they get a shower when they get it, and they are just fine, thank you.

But the begonia.

She droops heavy with direct afternoon sun and she sags when she is thirsty, which is too often. I tend to her with the hose, and I am not always nice about it. I grumble and call her fussy and consider letting the sun have its way with her. But the brilliant, peculiar fuchsia blooms that grow when she is cared for are beautiful in a shocking way, and I am compelled to baby the darn thing.

We are the same, this begonia and I.

When life like the sun is high and hot for too long, my soul wilts as warm lettuce.

Some days this feels holy, as if my greatest awareness of myself is the need for my God, and I might actually die without His kind of rest. I find Him in the shade and quiet and cool and drink of His words. On other days it feels as if I am too withering weak to weather what everyone else is just fine with. I confess this to my sister, and she reminds me of the ways we are all created different as puzzle pieces and also how we all fit to need each other’s experiences of the same life. When I hang up the phone, I no longer feel like a fussy plant. I feel rightly made.

And I sit in the shade and have a long drink of cool water.

 

***

It’s late June, and I began unfolding again into the far corners a busy life won’t always allow me freedom to stretch into. More mornings begin with my tracking the progress of a patch of sunlight across my covers. I pick and prune pajama-bottomed through my gardens with coffee in one hand and scissors in the other.

Hugs and conversations linger and slow-bubbling pancakes with bacon replace the quick bowl of cereal for breakfast. There are spills and laughter and sheets of watercolor littering the table.

These signs of life are beautiful in a shocking way, and I am compelled to baby them.

***

“We haven’t done this in a long time.” My daughter doesn’t say these words; she sings them. I survey our happy mess of yawning tomato cans and skin-naked onions, feel the crunch of spilled sea salt under my bare feet. Our summer salsa making is legend, if only to us.

I lightly squeeze then kiss her button nose and say, “I know, sister.” What I don’t say out loud, but we understand between us is, “I missed you too.”

We sing Jamaican songs and pretend we are on a cooking show. With a wink, we dip our chips right into the blender to taste the first batch, and we will tell no one we did so. And our souls breathe in deeply and out slowly in that rested way souls have of doing when God pulls out a chair and we choose to sit with the good and holy gifts right in front of us in the same moment they are offered. We use no recipe, just every memory of each time before that we’ve slowed time to play and make this salsa.

It always turns out perfect.

Summer Salsa
to be pinched or dashed according to your mood and taste
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Ingredients
  1. 28 ounce can of whole peeled tomatoes
  2. 14 ounce can of mild Rotel
  3. 1 bunch of cilantro
  4. 3 or 4 peeled garlic cloves
  5. 1 jalapeño (remove seeds for milder flavor)
  6. 1 medium-sized sweet onion
  7. 1 lime for squeezing
  8. salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Blend all of this up real nice and it’s ready to eat right out of the blender. (It’s always a good idea to double it and give a jar to your neighbors with a big ol’ bag of chips because you’re generous like that.)
Grace Table http://gracetable.org/
Melissa Blair
Melissa Blair / Posts / Blog
Melissa Blair is a writer and recovering Texan now living in the Ozark Mountains of Northwest Arkansas. Being barefoot in the kitchen or on the back porch with her people makes her as happy as strong coffee does. Melissa believes there is always treasure buried beneath the dirt of every day and enjoys digging for, dusting off, and holding each one up to the light for a better view. She can be found writing the mess out of life at melissablair.net and is not afraid to post embarrassing status updates on her Facebook page and Instagram (@melblair)
  • Katie

    Melissa,
    I so appreciate and enjoy your writing.
    “The world is a drive-thru window, and I have always been more of a crockpot.” When you said that I could SO relate! Your statement also reminded me of a quote I have in my notes on my cell: “”Life is simple and deep and society gives us complicated and shallow.” Fred Rogers From the conversations you shared it sounds as if you are quite blessed to have the sister and daughter you have.:) Gratefully, Katie

    July 14th, 2017 14:11
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    • Melissa Blair
      Melissa Blair
      http://melissablair.net

      Katie,
      Thank you so very much for your words…they are also a kind of rest for my soul in the sweet way God connects and speaks to both of us. I am writing down that quote from Fred Rogers as I finish this note to you (I’m kind of a quote hound!). Love hearing from you and where you are in this rest thing. Keep fighting for yours, girl. Thank you again, Katie. <3

      July 14th, 2017 14:57
      Reply
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  • Shelly Miller
    http://redemptionsbeauty.com

    This is so lovely Melissa. I could highlight so many lines that made me smile. You’ve given us such a wonderful glimpse of the shift that happens to our heart, mind and body when we start to slow, savor and rest.

    July 15th, 2017 4:12
    Reply
    03
    • Melissa Blair
      Melissa Blair

      Shelly, and now you’ve made me smile too. I feel the same way when I read your writing…it is all things lovely and light and all I want to do is sit with you at your cottage and have restful conversations with you! You’ve really got the key for this life….thank you for sharing it with us so beautifully.
      And thank you for your generous words, friend.

      July 17th, 2017 7:57
      Reply
      04
  • Karen Questel

    “…spills, laughter and sheets of watercolor…” I love your writing. I can relate in the fact that I’m a crock pot in a drive thru window. Also, it is comforting the way you compel me to s l o w down. Sweet Melissa, your words are comforting! I think I’ll make salsa! Thank you for the recipe. God bless.

    July 16th, 2017 20:45
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    • Melissa Blair
      Melissa Blair

      Oh, Karen. It felt like joy to read your comment! Like hearing from a friend. I am thankful (and tickled) that you feel like slowing down and making salsa. Thank you so much taking the time to reach out to me…makes this ol’ crockpot smile 😉 Have a beautiful, slow day friend.

      July 17th, 2017 7:51
      Reply
      06
  • Kris
    http://kriscamealy.com

    This is so rich, Melissa. I had to slow myself down to read it–to savor it, really. Thank you for sharing your heart in such a real, tangible way. I swear, we are kindreds…

    July 18th, 2017 18:19
    Reply
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