The hems of my soggy pants brush my ankles, sending chills up my spine. Grass confetti sticks like static electricity to my shoes with each step. I stop and stare at the horizon; my hand covers my squinting eyes, an awning shielding the brightness. I’ve memorized this moment for eleven months, breathless with the reality. Captivated by simple beauty, I sit down and mentally retrace the familiar lines of the landscape.
Water gently laps on the shoreline, the sun illuminating the lake like a flash mob of photographers. Children’s voices and the hum of a boat echo from miles across; the blue cloudless sky meets inky indigo water. A bird trills from two houses beyond, breaking my trance, diverting my attention toward the beach strewn with sand toys, water skis, and crumpled beach towels.
I hear myself exhale. And think.
In a culture of busyness, most of us live in the tension of unresolved solutions for continual cycles of chronic tiredness. We know we need rest but struggle to find margins.
This weekend, I’m “wasting time” with Ann Voskamp. She has pulled up a chair for me at the farm where I’m sharing a little glimpse into the pages of Rhythms of Rest. In full disclosure, Ann played a part in making me an author.
In the early days of blogging here, I participated in a link-up she hosted on her website for writers. It was there that my (now) dear friend and author, Lynn Morrissey found my writing, referred me to agent, Chip MacGregor and the rest is history. I’m an author in part because of Ann’s great generosity.
Join me at the farm for the full story? It would be such grace to have you there with me in the rocking chairs (and share the post with your friends?). Click here to find Ann’s porch.
Shelly, dearest Shelly! I had already read this exquisite excerpt from Rhythms of Rest (wow, your very first, very real book!!!!) at Ann’s yesterday. It is such a perfect picture of rest–a painting in your lyric (and often unexpected) prose and your luscious still-life photography (the beautiful marriage of your artistic gifts). I read it there, but how I love that I can comment here. And before I read what you said about Ann’s link-up, I thought, How like God to bring Shelly full-circle in His plan for you–to give you an opportunity to share as an “unknown” author at Ann’s website (she truly is generous!) and now to bring you back there, by her invitation, to share the words of your very first book (and we know there will be many more–#2 coming up soon, published by a British publishing house). The quality of both your writing and your heart remain the same, and this is, I think, what first attracted me to your writing when I read it at Ann’s. But we also know it was more. I believe so strongly that God is our Divine Networker, and that He draws us to particular people for His Kingdom purposes. And I also believe in generosity–in not just sharing the gifts that He has given by using them faithfully to bless others, but in helping to discover ways in which others can share theirs. It was such a joy to be able to introduce you to agent, Chip MacGregor. From time to time, I will “send” authors to him whose writing I just sense intuitively he will love. My instincts were right about you. He immediately appreciated your talent; but I know it was more. Good agents look for authors who live their messages. In the end, there are many who can write–but not many who are deeply, authentically, and humbly led by God. Your words, while truly unique and startlingly fresh and musical, would have no power on your readers were they not written from a deep desire to please God and from a place where He has changed your life. Your words, in this book and all that you write, go forth from a place that has been deepened and purified by God. Shelly, your words go forth in God’s own power, and that is why He has, is, and *will* use them! I express it here in my review for your book (on Amazon): “Author Shelly Miller’s breathtaking debut book, Rhythms of Rest: Finding the Spirit of Sabbath in a Busy World, is like a distant carillon lilting above life’s noisy static, beckoning us to living differently, soulfully, to come apart and rest awhile. Shelly’s ear is perfectly attuned to God—to His hushed song of Sabbath.” Oh, Shelly, as you continue to write (and you will be complimented and praised), continue to keep your heart humble and your ear perfectly attuned to His. God can use such a vessel as you for His purposes and glory. I am soooo happy for the way that you slow down to listen and to scribe the messages that He whispers in your ear. I love you, and I am sooooo happy for you–giddy, really!! I hope there is some way to see you on your tour, but I’m just not sure yet. And one day, of course, I hope to connect with you in the home of your heart and mine, England. Talk to you soon!!! So privileged to know and love you!
Oh how I love this! Too often I fall into the trap that my to do list rules my life – thus meaning the more I get done, the more important I am. But it’s such a lie and it’s never quite as fulfilling as it sounds. This is something I am really working through right now – my identity comes from God, the One who calls me daughter and Redeemed. And to just hang out with Him, to rest and waste time, as you put it, now that’s one of the greatest ways to spend my time!
I do hear Jesus ask me softly, ” What do you want me to do for you?” It feels heavy. There are so many ways I could answer; I want to get it right, to provide an answer worthy of his attention. And then YOU provided it, Shelly, in the middle of your post: “Dearest Jesus, grant me a well-lived life that bequeaths a worthwhile legacy.” And then again at the end, you provided an addendum: “Define my purpose, Lord, (even in retirement!) and lead me in the path you’ve already determined is best” (Psalm 139:16). (Forgive the paraphrasing, please!) Thank you for personalizing this question from the gospels, Shelly, and giving us/me an inspired, heartfelt answer. I’ve copied this prayer on a 3 x 5, to keep with my other requests. I want to stay mindful!