Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Come Rest With Me


 The cornfield across the street preparing for its winter nap.

The only way I can get my three year old twins to nap is by joining them.  


It started last week, the day after a horrid night of fevers and chills that kept the littlest one and me up until well past one a.m.  The fever broke by morning, but we were all haggard with a chest cold that refused to let us go.  I don’t remember how we made it through the morning, but by afternoon I had only one priority: sleep.


My boys gave up napping last spring and since then we’ve instilled a daily practice of “quiet time” which is routinely loud and filled with interruptions, arguments, loud crashes and the daily dismantling of their entire room.  The other day I ventured upstairs to investigate an alarming racket and found one boy hammering the pine paneled wall above his bed with a giant metal hammer.  


Most days I flee to the kitchen during the “quiet” hour, the room from which I can hear the least.  One day a few weeks ago I laid down on the kitchen floor and took a nap on a small rug, right there beside the sink and cupboards; I curled up like a cat.


After lunch last Wednesday I announced my plan – we would be napping, together.  The boys were excited, curious.  Where would I sleep?  Would I have a sleeping bag?  Would we really all be in the same room?


I tucked them in with their blankets, curtains closed, lights out.  They watched me stretch out on the thin wool race car rug with my pillow and a fleece blanket. 


“No talking,” I said.


I lay still, sleep settling like a fog and listened as they each sat up to peer at me as if to call my bluff, but I stayed silent and still and one by one they took it as truth – we were going to sleep.


Isaiah was first to give in and I listened as his breathing deepened, his body relaxing into a restful rhythm.  Levi tossed and turned, fidgeting, then he took up his stuffed kitty with the rattle inside and began shaking it rhythmically, forcefully.


“Levi,” I said, “No.  You need to be quiet.  Close your eyes.”


He laid the cat aside and I don’t know which of us fell first, but two hours later I woke to the quiet of two still-sleeping boys.   


They LOVED that we napped together.


Yesterday I pulled the trick again.  Since the change to daylight savings time our rhythms of rest and wakefulness have been oddly skewed by early morning waking and early evening meltdowns.  My boys were tired and needed rest, so I tucked them in again, this time leaving the room to head downstairs for a much-needed break. 


They were quiet, but restless, tossing and turning and I knew with certainty it wouldn’t be long before the whispering, then shouting began.  Sitting at the computer I could feel my own exhaustion weighing me down and eventually I gave in.  Climbing the stairs with a pillow and blanket in hand, I pushed their bedroom door open to find two bright-faced boys sitting up in bed. 


I sent them to the bathroom, then tucked their blankets in again.  I told them we would all be napping and stretched out on the dirty blue rug with my cell phone on vibrate beside me so we wouldn’t over sleep and miss the bus bringing the older kids home. 


Isaiah fell first again and Levi and I had our usual back and forth, then we all sank together in that small dark room.


I’ve been learning lately about the sacredness of rest; how sleep can be prayer and worship rolled into one.  In the silent stillness of my boys’ room, I felt us all enveloped by the holy, as though returned to the womb of life, the place where we’re nurtured in darkness and formed in our inmost beings. 


I’m teaching my boys the art of surrender, of giving in to the body’s need for rest – here, lay your head down like so, cover yourself, be still, be silent – or is it they who, in their evident need, are teaching me? 


This is what I pondered when I woke before them yesterday and slipped downstairs to stare out at the empty cornfield with a sleepy kitten in my lap  – how rest is a learned behavior, something modeled.


Resting with my boys, I am reminded again that God rested, right there in the beginning of the bible, before all of the other good and exciting things, God took a day off.  Almost as if God was sure we would never figure it out on our own. 


I believe God rests still, with us, when we stretch out long on an old wooden floor or snuggle up sweet like the twins in their big boy beds.  God models rest and invites us in whispering as the silent night settles and wraps her wings around us, "Here, lay your head down like so, cover yourself, be still, be silent, rest." 

This post is linked with Playdates with God , Unforced Rhythms, and #TellHisStory.

12 comments:

  1. 'Rest' and 'Sabbath'--two themes that continue to pop up in various corners of the blogging world. This is a word to me as well, to rest like a child.......and just trust God. I pray you have many more rejuvenating days ahead. Thank you for this Kelly.

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    1. I'm feeling the need for rest and digging my heels in a little in preparation for the inevitable speeding up of EVERYTHING due to the holidays. I was at the store yesterday and thought, "I just want to slow down and enjoy the season." I think, for me, that rest is a big part of enjoyment.

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  2. The Spirit has been speaking with me about rest lately, too. I love how you describe sleep as both prayer and worship. I think that's so very true, especially when it is a surrender of our busy nature and a laying down of our "I should be..." Love it!

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    1. Sometimes the need for and willingness to rest is all I have to offer God and in that light, it can't be that much different than the offering of the widow's mite - a gift of great delight in the eyes of God. Makes me think of sleeping children too, how beautiful they are to watch and how much of creation is beautiful in the same reposed way and all of this, I believe, reflects the wonder of God.

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  3. Hi Kelly I just love your post thank you for sharing. I am visiting from Playdates today and when I sat staring at the long list of link ups I quietly asked Christ, what should I read today and He led me to your link. it was exactly what I need. You know I have always felt such a sacredness about sleep, I have always been the sleep person. But my husband hates sleep (I think there is something spiritual about this behaviour) and because he fights sleeping so much, it has almost made me anxious. Sleep now equals anxious behaviour, whereas before it was naturally wonderful. This is something I need to pray about it. because it is almost as though the enemy steals these beautiful things from us - I miss my sleep! So I am off for a nap. Many blessings! Aliyah (setapartwarrior.blogspot.com)

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    1. I hope you find your way back to rest, Aliyah. It's difficult for me to sleep too, when I know my husband is anxiously awake downstairs. There's such a gift in being able to rest together.

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  4. Sweet memories recalled while reading here Kelly. I know many times when the Lord used my children's restlessness to urge me to a place of quiet. While stayed near to them, the Lord felt nearer to me. Blessings friend.

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  5. This is beautiful, peaceful, *restful*, and such a great reminder to find our rest in Him. Thanks for this, Kelly!

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  6. I love this image of God stretching out in rest beside us. And this just makes me breathe more slowly: "I’ve been learning lately about the sacredness of rest; how sleep can be prayer and worship rolled into one." YES. That you are showing your boys the art of surrender, of listening to their bodies, you are teaching them something most adults in the U.S. fight hard against every single day.

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    1. That's so true, Amber - thanks for pointing out how difficult rest is for most of us "adults." In that case I believe they (as well as my own weaknesses) are definitely teaching me!

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  7. How sleep can be prayer and worship all rolled in one. Yes. I've been struggling with sleep lately too, Kelly (and I don't have any littles to blame!) and I feel those words in my marrow. I wonder if thinking of it this way will help? I'll let you know :)

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  8. This is such a beautiful read Kelly. Your words really spoke to me today. Sometimes I struggle with rest but not in terms of the my physical sleep but my spiritual rest. Society has always taught us that we need to be pursuing something or doing something bigger than ourselves at every moment. Recently I have been searching out what God has for me as my children grow bigger. For now I am home with them "resting" and enjoying every second but soon they will be off to preschool and then kindergarten and I worry about what I will do with myself when this happens. It is hard to not know the answer to this question. It is hard to "rest" in the moment and just trust in God in terms of what comes next. I asked God every day what he has me and every morning I hear "Diane, my job for you at this moment is to be a mother to your two young children. I want you to learn to"rest" in that for now. This is a daily struggle for me but I am learning!

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