Sing a little song of trust,
O my heart!
Sing it just because you must,
As leaves start;
As flowers push their way through dust;
Sing, my heart, because you must.
Wait not for eager throng—
Bird on bird;
It’s the solitary song
That is heard.
Every voice at dawn will start,
Be a nightingale, my heart!
Streams in the Desert, December 28
The birds are singing again.
A neighbor and I talk through slats in the wooden fence separating our terrace houses. She’s unstringing a tangle of fluorescent green lights, unsure if the bulbs decorating the head of a small tree are more garish than festive, telling me what I already know.
H walks outside in bare feet, making a dash on cold concrete to the garage when he hears her name each bird species witnessed on branches growing in our small walled gardens.
“Yes, we’re hearing them sing as we wake up in the morning,” he interjects.
She’s not listening. Her head is bent over, eyes focused on a knot in the cord, and her mind, on her father-in-law who just arrived from Canada, the package delivered to our house while they were out. Apologizing for the noise that comes from her kids through the adjoining walls of our houses.
The birds vanish for more than a year because of the noise. Construction workers with power tools on scaffolding towers keep chirping choirs from alighting on the ivy and camellias.
While we are quick to make things new, better, brighter, more efficient and less mundane, the birds know what we are slow to notice.
We can’t hear the way life sings with purpose and beauty when busyness is the repetitive song we are choosing.
The last week of Advent can be a deadline you fear you won’t meet, a goal you doubt you will achieve, an atmosphere completely within your control to create only to crash on December 25.
And New Year’s Day provides a reprieve; the hope of redemption from hurry, hustle and moving harried from one blessed task into a rushing stream of endless activity. From the seduction of doing more for achieving happiness to surrendering to Sabbath for hearing God sing over you again.
Let’s forego resolutions and be resolute instead.
Begin Sabbath as you begin a New Year.
Make rest realistic in 2017 and hear your days sing with purpose and meaning again.
For a season, we wait for Christ to come to us and since the beginning, Christ waits for us to come to him in Sabbath.
There is lingering now, a space of days between Christmas and the New Year asking, “How will you choose to live?” And God doesn’t beg, He waits.
When silent, sitting in the stillness instead of moving at a frenetic pace, you notice the longing ache for the wonder of Christmas to remain. Dread removing fairy lights and the tree from your house because of the warmth of belonging they bring. Fear that the peace you experience now will eventually fade.
And Jesus stands at the door, knocks, whispers Sabbath, and waits. Can you hear the hope?
Let’s slow down and savor the moments continually, every week, instead of approaching life as an emergency that needs to be fixed, solved, and bandaged.
I wrap arms around my waist, holding in warmth while standing in the cold at the fence. Listen to my neighbor say, “It’s the construction that kept the birds away. And the cat that lives a few doors down has become an indoor pet bringing the birds back into the garden again.”
In January, let’s remove what threatens us from flourishing and begin cultivating rhythms of rest. Sometimes it takes a community of empathetic friends to help you find a pathway through the busyness of life back to a place of peace again.
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Download this printable January calendar and begin making rest realistic in the New Year. Every day, a reminder of God’s great gift available to you in Sabbath from the Beginnings chapter in Rhythms of Rest. Weekly whitespaces to exhale, slow down, and savor instead of auto-piloting on survival mode.
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Let’s make 2017 the year we sing from the treetops with purpose and alight among the weary carrying songs of hope.
“In the same way that beginning a New Year with a clean slate and fresh hope motivates us toward change, finding rhythms of rest in a busy world makes life radically different. You may even like yourself more. But first you must choose to begin.” From Rhythms of Rest