It’s only a few gravel roads to the north of here. The axis of the earth rotates at a different speed and time’s hands move more like eternity’s and who knew that it would be back there that I’d find the cord that would tie all my lost and harried pieces together?
I mean, maybe I should have known right then, coming down that hill facing west, the clouds drifting silent, the oxygen inflating the chest cavity with this rarefied air… peaceful, deliberate.
The gnarled orchard suns itself in the noonday heat. Young girls, bonneted and barefoot, cluster in the shade of ancient limbs. Boys in straw hats and suspenders scatter throughout a farmyard, a lazy windmill graciously serving as the home base anchor for their game of baseball.
I breathe deep, exhale long and completely. I park near the hitching post next to the back door.
Two steps up take me up past the corn bristle broom hanging on the clapboard and into the cool dark of the shop. The eyes need a moment to adjust to the still dimness, to really see.
Ephraim, bent and bearded, comes in the door on the far side, the door connecting this room to the house. He shuffles across the worn wood floors, his boots heavy. His eighty-four now. I don’t know how many years Ephraim’s been running this farm store. He digs his hands, old and gnarled like the orchard, into his apron’s pocket in search of a pencil.
“Yes?”He has his pencil nub ready. His glasses slide to the end of his nose. I eye shelves. The room’s no larger than my mudroom. The walls are lined with recycled coffee tins marked with masking tape labels of “baking soda,” “cornstarch,” and “chicken bouillon.”
I pondered, “Well….” How this air slows.
Ephraim steps into the room’s only beam of light streaming through the four paned window. He patiently waits. He just waits. I’m not used to ad-free shelves like these. I take my time.
A 25 kilogram box of raisins stacked in a darkened corner, a 5 gallon pail of honey, a 25 kilogram bag of oats. Soundlessly and in perfectly executed scrolls, Ephraim itemizes each in his coil notebook. In the far margin, he writes down the price. Nothing is digitalized, automated, clicking or ticking. There is no clock in this room.
He weighs the bag of cornstarch I set on the butcher top counter. He marks down precisely what the scale hands pronounce.
“Might you have larger bag of flax?” I inquire, soft. So as not to break the peace of the place.
He nods, turns his hunched back towards a side room, windowless and shadowed. I reach out to touch jars of oil. They are reflective, luminous, in that one sun shaft. I lean to smell baby food jars of cloves. I pick up one of the fragile glass flutes of a lantern. My lantern broke last year. I think about buying a new flute. I think about lighting a lantern. I wait. There is no clock in this room.
I do not know how long I just simply am before he returns carrying a bag tied at the top with fraying twine.
He cradles the bag closer to eye level and makes mention: “Found a little hole here in the corner so the flax seeds were trickling out.” He fingers the bag’s woven corner. It’s frayed.
“I just tied it up with some twine.”
Unexpectedly, he turns his face directly towards mine, gentle eyes locking. “This isn’t one of those big good stores,” he apologizes.
It takes me a moment to know what he means, to find words ready to respond, the silence of the space so complete.
Finally words stir and I assure, “Oh, I find this place good. Very good.”
Taking the double tied flax bag in hand, I can feel it.
My compulsion has leaked away. I have unwound and let go.
There comes an end to the unraveling.
I already am, already here, already born. There is no need to push.
He smiles gratitude and tallies the flax to my list. There is only the sound of his pencil slow scratching out the math. Scratching out what this world all really adds up to.
On my way down the lane I notice collections of women in the long waving grasses of the pasture, their black aprons blowing in the breeze. A line of men parallel the fence, leaning on the cedar rails. I think they’ve found time.Found each other.
And in that moment it comes again, the words of a well-known pastor who was asked what was the most profound regret of his life.
Recalling the expansive and chaotic landscape of a life of sins and wounds, he thought for a moment, then answered, “Being in a hurry.
Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me.
I cannot think of a single advantage I’ve ever gained from being in a hurry.
But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all the rushing.
Through all that haste, I thought I was making up time. It turns out I was throwing it away.”
I know. I know. All my pushing, hurrying, rushing to gather and store … while my life trickles away out a corner.
The cord was tied moments after the birth. There’s no need to push anymore.
I can hear it too, a whisper on wind, a voice soothing all the children who were birthed into the world to the strained refrain of “push, push…..” A voice whispering to all His children a word that closes up the open and raw and weeping places…
I take my time driving home.
Three Ways to Rest Today:
1. Look Up
Step outside for a moment. (And really, it’s wonderfully true: you do have a moment.) Just look up at the sky. Stare at the blue. Breathe deep. Breathe deep again. Think about heaven. Watch the clouds. Gaze for a long, wondrous moment at the sky and think about all that is eternal and step outside of time and remember how He’s made you for eternity. Exhale.
2. Look in
Look in. See the hurry and the angst and the worry and the tired bones. Look in — and let go. Just let go. Because do you hear Him whispering to you today: “Jesus said, “Come off by yourselves; let’s take a break and get a little rest.” (Mark 6:31).
Look in and see inside His will for you: “Now the Lord my God hath given me rest on every side.” (1Kings 5:4)
3. Look Down
Bow your head in prayer for a moment. A long moment. Whisper thanks to Jesus for His abiding presence. Feel Him take the burden off your shoulders. Feel His arms underneath carrying you. Feel Him.
Rest in Him.
(An edited repost from the archives… because I am trying to just rest :)
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