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Our yard in late summerWhen you were young, did you ever notice older people sitting on a park bench without a book or phone or game in hand and wondered how they could “waste” time like that? I always had to be doing something. Heaven forbid that I should be caught without something to read at least when I had a few moments to spare.

But lately God has been teaching me that seemingly idle moments are anything but empty.

Last night I had the luxury of a rare unscheduled evening. Mike had business in the city and Jordan was out. With my three-year MA program beginning the next evening, I was hurrying to finish up writing the final talk for a series of women’s weekend retreats this fall. And then it was as if a quiet inner voice said…stop. Just STOP.  Are you listening?

So I did. I stepped outside into the gathering twilight and parked myself on the glider in our backyard. Our collie, Kelli, lay down watchfully on the grass, a little uneasy that we weren’t going anywhere. I resisted the temptation to pick up the book I had automatically carried outside with me. Instead, I just sat and did not do one single thing.

Except listen…to the castanet beat of the cicadas in the trees and the steel-on-steel rhythm of train wheels meeting the track downtown.

Except feel… the August wind lifting my hair and loosening spent leaves from their moorings in the black walnut tree above me.

Except smell…the scent of late-summer roses and the savory supper on the neighbors’ barbeque grill.

You have my permission, the voice said, to rest. To quiet your body and your soul. To sit and reflect on the world I’ve created. To pray for those who are struggling.

So I did. I gave it a rest.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  Matthew 11:28-30 The Message