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30 Days of Rest: It’s Your Turn

image.pngWhen my dad was a teenager he was a member of a gang.

He usually corrects me when I say that, clarifying that it was really more of club. I think this is his way of saying they were not violent but they were still up to no good.

The reason my dad is not still in a gang is because one day he told them he was going to have to leave. He said, “Guys, I’ve to to go and find out if God is real.”

One of his buddies said, “If you find out He is real, will you come back and tell me?”

That story has pulsed through my blood these past few weeks. My dad and I share many traits but it wasn’t until I reflected on my year of rest that I realized whatever stirred inside of him that had to find out the truth for himself also stirs in me.

Last year, I told my world that I needed to go. I needed to find out for myself if the rest that Jesus promised was just another pretty painting on one of the many decorated walls of my life.

Having no idea what it would look like, last October, I got off the treadmill of my world and practiced 30 days of rest.

What I really wish I could have done was move into a tiny cabin for a year and fall apart and pull myself back together in private. Alone. Where no one could witness my unwraveling.

When I see movies and hear stories of parents abandoning children or loved ones, I get it. I often find myself looking for a way out. Not because I don’t want to take care of my family, not even because it is too hard. (It goes without saying that it’s too hard, right?)

But, leaving my reality (which included, but was not limited to, my husband and my two kids) was not optional. That meant that I stayed with them and they stayed with me in my inadequacy. I often want to get away because it reveals too much about what I am not, cannot do and will never be.

How could I begin to be with a God, to even be alone with myself, and practice acceptance when I only knew how to earn relationship?

To remain at the table of life even when I haven’t brought anything to share, especially when I have nothing to share, well, it turns out that was exactly the moment I could begin to glimpse the mysterious rest that Jesus promises.

Let me be clear, this year of rest was not a vacation. I did not, could not, vacate from my real life. But I had to find a way to be in it differently. So, I took the most vulnerable journey ever…one that exposed my limitations in every way and one that welcomed me to a richness of life that is so exquisite I can’t really explain it. This blog is that journey.

We all know what we are supposed to do to be healthy, to live whole-heartedly. We know we need rest, good nutrition, and deep connection, but what we don’t know, or at least what I did not know, was that the norms set up in our culture do not allow for that. Another “10 healthy tips for living” cannot be piled on top of our already bulging at the seams life, though I’ve tried.

In re-imagining what 30 Days of Rest could be this year, I thought about inviting others to join me. I am asking 30 different people to each take one of the 30 days as their very own day of rest.*

I want to invite YOU to the table of life, to come and sit for one day or 30 days with nothing to offer. It’s like a potluck where you don’t bring anything to share but your tired self. I do hope you take at least one day of actual rest (as in sleep, quiet, nothing scheduled) but what I am really inviting you into is a way of being where you practice giving yourself the same dignity as nature receives and find a rhythm where you can be present, where you bring your true self to your real life whatever that means to you today.

That story about my dad is only known by me because his best friend tells it every time I’ve heard him preach a sermon. My dad did come back and tell Jorge what he learned and Jorge went off on his own journey to find God which started when he moved in with my parents right after they found out they were pregnant with me.

Like my dad, I left an old way of life for the hope that there was more life out there and I found it.  And, like my dad, I want to tell you there’s more, there really is.

The rest you long for is closer then you can imagine.

 

*If you would like more information on formally participating in 30 Days of Rest this October, email me at jenniferwiseblack@gmail.com. (Of course, you can participate informally however you like.)