Returning to Rest

My children spent most of today out of the house. I’m under the weather with a head cold from all the airplane travel, and John is back at work tending to the things of Fuller theological seminary. I have taken Sudafed every four hours. I also sip on ice water, while editing my novel, which I’m mostly happy with right at the present moment. I’m still sometimes bored with it, but for the most part, I’m starting to find the story, enter into it again, and see the framework for the entire series come back into my mind, which was something I had been hoping for.

Usually, I rise early in the morning and pitter-patter down to my office to work, but this morning I stayed in bed and wrote from there for a while, then moved to the couch, then back upstairs, and finally, as the sun is falling behind the trees, I’ve found my way to the dock, and am currently sitting here, with my phone on one side, which is not connected to wifi, a book I’m reading on the other side, and my computer in my lap.

The wind is light but present, which carries the voices of all the neighbors and the laughter of children across the water. They’re all pleasant sounds. The birds are cooing and singing in the distance and underneath the dock, upon which I’m sitting, the water gently laps and reminds me there is cool refreshment to enjoy all around.

Earlier today, when the sun hung high in the sky, I decided I could not stay inside for another minute and pulled my swimsuit out, lathered myself in sunscreen, and headed onto my paddle board. The wind made the board sort of skid across the water and I’m still dealing with a bad foot, so I was careful where I put my weight, but I dipped my paddle in and out slowly, going about snail speed, until finally I laid down in the middle of the lake and drifted, soaking in the sun. Whilst there, I felt good. Not good in the immediate sense, which was also true. I like the feeling of the hot sun on my skin and the sound of the water right under me, and the sway of the board back and forth, but I also felt good in the deepest sense. My soul felt calm, like a hushed child. It could be the Sudafed, which sometimes makes me feel a little otherworldly, but mostly I think it was that my soul seems to be in a general state of well-being these days. The electricity had gone out for most of the day, so I had no internet, and therefore no ouside communication and right then on that paddle board I felt wholly present.

* * *

This morning, I got a kick out of the lectionary. The Old Testament reading came out of Genesis, from the story of Laban and Jacob. Laban tells Jacob that he has discovered through divination that the Lord is blessing him through Jacob. This made me laugh out loud. Laban and his divination techniques. We worry out about so many things and then there’s Laban, discovering through divination that God is blessing him. Go figure.

My dad picked Emma up to go to the barn, and then I drove Lucas to his friend’s house. I came home and worked on my novel. Nothing spectacular. At all.

Mostly, if I were to be honest, I think I’ve come to a place of peace with God. I have found a new way to dwell in God’s love. That sounds like I’m some spiritual guru – and I’m not. I’m about as ordinary and normal as they come, but I do feel a peace that is past a place of striving, past the constant need to please God and muster up courage to do what I feel God is asking of me, past the place of worry that I’m missing out on something, or that there’s something new around the corner I need to raise my spiritual antenae for. I’m not nearly as worried about what people might think of me as I used to be, either. I’m simply content to belong to God, in a way that is new for me, in a way that is gentle and quiet, in a way that feels whole.

Living on the water certainly helps with that, but I also felt it while traipsing across London and Edinburgh. A few times, after we ordered toasties from Starbucks and then walked up the Royal Mile with hundreds of people on every side of me, I would feel a sense that God was near, a companion on the way. I hardly cracked open the Bible the entire time I was traveling, but I did bring my Psalter and one morning, the words, “Turn again to your rest O my soul, for the Lord has treated you well,” jumped out of the page at me.

Perhaps that’s what I’m doing. Perhaps I’m returning to my rest. Although, I’ve never known this sort of rest before. This feels new. It seems like a rest that comes from being altogether and wholly loved. It feels like the place where joy is birthed.

When I was lying on my paddle board in the middle of the lake today, with the hot sun beating down on me, I think God spoke. It might have been the Sudafed. If it wasn’t the Sudafed speaking, and it was God, I appreciate the communication, but more than anything I sensed the nearness of God, and that was the part that brings the rest to my soul—the quiet companionship.

John says that the omnipresence of God is remarkable because it means that God is eternally attentive to us.

When we are afraid, that constant attentiveness of God just makes us miserable because we feel condemned, like God is lurking around the corner about to jump us. But when we’re content to be loved by God, and willing for God to teach us to dwell in that rich and good love, eventually, we’ll make our way to the other side of fear, into a land that is rich with Shalom. I think I’m learning to take steps toward that place of peace, and it is good for me.

Tina

Tina

Tina Osterhouse is passionate about living deeply and authentically. Through fiction, blog posts, and creative essays, she writes about ordinary life and the way God meets us in our everyday circumstances and creatively weaves the sacred into them. She studied ministry and theology at Northwest University, most recently lived on thirty acres in Southern Chile, and finally returned to the Seattle area in June of 2015.

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