We have passed through that “most wonderful time of the year” and the hands on the clock and the sands in the hourglass of 2021 have passed now. Some Christmas trees still twinkle near hearths and most gifts are finding a place in our homes. The fridge is less full, and the house is more in its usual order. The house that was preparing for friends and family is quieter too if we were able to have them here this year. New Year’s festivities have ended too, and now we enter the uncharted waters of 2022.
For two years we have been caught up in the throes of the pandemic and most of us hoped by the end of 2021 it would no longer be a threat. Now we know it is not over and follows us into 2022 in different forms and yet not gone. Some are not sure about making resolutions as we have been living in the uncertainty that has crushed hope for some and brought too much disappointment to many more.
But we have lived with uncertainty before for many reasons. Many of us recall the fears and trepidation about entering a new century when we crossed into 2000. Pandemics have haunted other years and the other aspects hitting us now have been around before as well even if the number of them and the tempo seem to be greater than ever before. Without an awareness of those things, some of us can tend to feel a downward tug after the lights, color, and anticipation of Christmas. In the northern hemisphere as the daylight hours are shorter and the weather more inclement, we long for spring and a return to outdoor activities that don’t require boots, coats, scarves, and gloves.
And I recall not being fond of those months of January through March as well, as they seemed boring and drab when the skies were gray and much of most days meant I was indoors.
And then some time ago (can’t recall when) I began to appreciate this season as I had not. It may have started when I was teaching and had those unexpected “snow days” when school was closed and our children and I could enjoy pajamas, hot cocoa, and a fire in the fireplace with books to keep us company. Something definitely shifted and I began to enjoy the Christmas season and yet look forward to these months I never used to like. I appreciated the quieter schedule and it seemed as though there was an interlude before the busier spring, a pause that God put in place for us to grow to enjoy.
Today I am looking at the stack of new books waiting to be explored and I feel anticipation of all that I will experience as I go on an adventure with each author. The challenge before me is which one to choose first and which ones I need to still finish. (You will likely hear more about that since they often provide themes and quotes for new posts.)
I often devour a good novel and love when a topic and an author invites me to look more deeply into a nonfiction topic. I am in the midst of one of those that I am chewing slowly, and it relates to what we tend to miss about the need we have for rest and how to identify the rest we most need and whether it is really the path we tend to take. Some of us think our lives are boring and we have too much time on our hands, but most of us are likely to have schedules that get filled up before we even try. Then we are aware that they are not all that enjoyable.
I wonder what gives you a sense of rest (in the most positive sense of the word). When we were locked down throughout parts of the pandemic, most of us would not have defined that enforced government edict to be restful whether we were ill or not. There were too many fears and uncertainties attached to have every aspect of our lives upended for those days that had no clear ending in sight.
Some might say that they only experience rest on a vacation or weekend away and yet, there is inevitably a lot of unrest preparing for the trip and then returning to our lives and schedules again. Some may even feel more tired when they get back home.
Lack of rest not only affects all aspects of our health; it also can cause a distortion in our perceptions of so many things as we stop reflecting in healthy ways and struggle to look at our lives through the light of God. Then we sometimes start adding things we hope or believe will help only to discover they don’t accomplish what we hope they will.
What a conundrum we sometimes face. How do we get off the merry-go-round to find a fulfilling life with the balance that seems to elude us or once we may gain some that we so quickly lose again?
The problem must be more widespread than we might guess since more books are addressing it in recent years.
As believers called to reflect God’s image, what does He point to regarding rest?
I don’t have all the answers, but in the next series of posts I want to share with you some of what I have discovered.
No matter the season or age, we all wish we had more time either to do what we can’t get done or to enjoy the things we have set aside for too long.
“But there is no more time. Time is. It is both infinite and finite. It goes on and on. With or without us it will continue. Our number of days are known to God alone. Time chimes loudly over the roar of our anxious minds, initiating a battle between warring fears and courageous rest.”Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD