Henrik does laps around his playpen, swinging his dimpled arms like pendulums, as taking a nap is unthinkable with all this excess energy that compels his little legs to run, his little body to move, move, move. It’s hard to rest. There’s so much running to do. As he winds down a bit, he rolls across the mattress with his blankie, in a wrestling match of sorts with the idea of sleep: I embrace it (sucks thumb and strokes blankie’s silky edge), no I do not (tucks and rolls and kicks the sides of the playpen). I think I do the same with the Sabbath.
For six days of the week I start my day by getting the laundry going. There’s something soothing to me about hearing my trusty appliance sidekicks humming in the background, doing some major work at the touch of a button or two. It’s probably as close as I’ll come to having some domestic help, and it makes the day seem like it’s acquired some momentum. Some getting-it-done-ness.
So when the Sabbath comes around, a day to cease from my day-to-day workload and enjoy rest and my Lord, I miss the assuring hum of progress in the laundry room. I even have “temptations” and rationalizations about why I could/should in fact do laundry anyways. The quickly piling basket in the laundry room woos me. I’m serious. The loudest voice of temptation is Miss Responsible. She reasons matter-of-factly that it’s as necessary as brushing my teeth and cooking on Sundays; the children do need clothing ready for school the next day. What would become of Monday if Sunday didn’t do any work?
But, it’s just not true. Because I do laundry nearly every day, there is no true shortage of clothing for anybody. And Monday is meant for working, so let it have it’s work.
It’s hard to rest, hard to cease from wreaking productivity all over our weekend-blasted home. Hard to swallow the crumbed floors, the scattered shoes, and the Sunday paper laid strewn in several reading spots. Part of me wants it all ordered and shining and fresh and ready for Monday. But when, then, am I ready for Sunday?
Ready for rest?
This takes some foresight. I’m slowly learning that. If I have laundry going Saturday night, I make sure not to put a load in the washer before bed, because it will shout at me to be switched over to the dryer and folded on Sunday morning. I try to vacuum the floors and tidy things up Saturday night so that my restless I-want-order spirit can find less irritation in my surroundings. And if all else fails and I awake to a disordered home on Sunday morning, I do as we did last night. We gathered the children and headed out for a nice walk to the park. We abandoned ship and sought fresh air, different landscapes, and no visible work to attend to other than pushing a giggling baby on the swings.
Sometimes you have to physically flee from temptations, even seemingly silly ones.
But the Sabbath commandment isn’t silly. I guess it’s pretty important to God, so it must be awfully important for us as well; for our spiritual wellbeing and connection to Him and others. We have to hit the pause button on our work, we need to step away from it, we need to remember God and dwell on Him with unscattered minds.
Why do I put dear Henrik down for a nap? Not because he wants one. Oh, no. He doesn’t even feel sleepy, quite the opposite really. I put him down because I know what he needs better than he does. I know he’d run himself ragged and get cranky and destructive and all out of sorts without his rest. He’d make himself, and all of us, miserable. It is an act of kindness and love, though to him it can feel so confining and restrictive. When he finally succumbs to the nap, his cheeks flushed pink and his blankie clasped in his pudgy fingers, his breathing sweet and soft, I am captivated by the sight. Love sweeps on over me as I see my son relaxing into the gift of rest.
It is humbling that we need the same, eh? We are all grown up and yet we are still assigned a rest time. We try to squirrel our way out of it, don’t we? Because we like to be unrestricted; we like to chart our days as we please. But God, in His wisdom, knows what we need better than we do.
Let us not, then, resist Him. Let us accept the gift He kindly offers to us as dearly loved children.