Rest, Rookeries and Good Sabbath

Everyone needs a rest. I took advantage of a rest this afternoon at
Hidden Falls Regional Park. I found a place to sit, and after a few
moments of getting comfortable, I settled into a delicious rest. 



It took some time before my senses came to life. In my normal habitat, noises invade me without permission: beeps, rings, voices, music, motors. In virtually every place, I'm inundated with sound. At first I could hear no sound whatsoever. It was a little unsettling. I think that's what happens when you get noise-drunk: You are so accustomed to noise, its absence is unnerving. For perhaps a quarter of an hour I wrestled with the stillness, trying to find my equilibrium. Slowly, I adjusted and my sense of hearing sharpened. I heard things I normally miss, like the rustling of leaves as the wind whispered through the small grove that was my Hidden Falls habitat. Oh, right. Leaves.

I also don't always see those, the leaves. I looked up and saw them really for the first time. That took my vision even farther upwards and I saw the sun shimmering and dancing radiantly through the branches and treetops. As I started to notice what was around me, about fifty feet away I saw five amber-colored poppies standing proudly in the green grass. And then I had a bird sighting. More like a bird-sounding at first: an unmistakable rat-a-tat of pecking. It took some time before I was able to follow the staccato beat to the tree trunk on which a redheaded woodpecker was beating out a steady rhythm. For twenty minutes, he tirelessly tattooed a section of the trunk.

Every been to a rookery? My favorite rookery is outside of Wichita, KS, in Sedgwick County. It's on a migratory pattern. For almost ever, I suppose, the rookery has left the lights on and served as home away from home for various kinds of birds on their seasonal flights north and south. Lorri and I spent a day there once with a pair of expert bird watchers. They were retired, married and part of a community I pastored. They called one Saturday and said, "Want to go birding?" as comfortable as I might ask, "Want to go to a movie?" Sounded interesting; we'd never been to a rookery and we'd never known birders before. We said, "Sure."

Away we went, ending up for hours perched on the side of a ravine as migratory birds coming and going swirled, swooped, whistled, squawked, and cawed while our birders oohed, hummed and hawed as they furiously wrote down their finds. My favorite memory was the uncomfortable moment when husband birder and wife birder got into a sharp and heated battle over whether they were seeing a red-breasted or white-breasted nuthatch. On the drive home they mentioned they would be happy to mentor young married couples, "If I needed the help." Thinking of the invectives I'd heard during the birder skirmish, I found myself wondering whether they'd be best suited mentoring the hard-headed or the hard-hearted spouse.

Those restful moments at Hidden Falls were good for my body. I dozed several times, each time a little deeper than the last as I grew comfortable with the reality that for a few delicious hours I had no problems to solve and no stresses to manage. 

Many who have traveled far in this journey with God have said it is impossible to have an interior life without practicing periodic withdraws from activity to rest.

There is genius in the rhythm of life practiced by Jesus when he deliberately withdrew from pressures and demands that would not withdraw from him. There is genius in the prayers of the Psalmist who advised, "Be still..." Many who have traveled far in this journey with God have said it is impossible to have an interior life without practicing periodic withdraws from activity to rest. 

Sitting here I see why: in silence it is possible to see how good, how abundant and how lavish the life God calls us to enjoy. I regret the violence I do to this good life by accepting a life of rush and no hush. I can't wait for the next Sabbath rest. Maybe I'll see a yellow-breasted chat...or wait, was that a buff-breasted sandpiper?