There is work and there is rest. There is stress and there is rest. There is play and there is rest. There is creativity and there is rest. No matter what else there is, there is the rest.

And, as a culture, we are not good at it. The rest part.

Even Lent takes a breather. It’s called Sabbath, or Sunday. That’s why we don’t count the Sundays during Lent as part of the forty days. And why tomorrow I won’t be writing about an image from my copious files of photos. The rest will do us good.

The photo I chose for today shows an unidentified man at rest. The daIMG_1038.JPGy I caught this glimpse was a busy day for us Maine tourists. Lighthouses and rocky coasts, Bar Harbor shops and a College of the Atlantic visit…we were on our feet most of the day that day, the day before, and we looked forward to the next. Our busy-ness led to some fatigue, yes, but this guy…it was evident he had really worked, that is, labored through the hours prior to his boarding a homeward bound, isle-hopping boat. Almost as soon as he got on, he lay down on some luggage and backpacks, put his legs up, and fell asleep. Here is a man at rest, unaware of the motor’s roar, the choppy waters, the buzzing conversations of others on board, the lumpy excuse for a pillow under his head.

He was at rest and he probably couldn’t help it, didn’t care that he couldn’t, and most certainly deserved it.

Not that we must earn rest. It is the gift that helps us cope, delight, and profit from the labors of our lives. And looking at this man it was easy to judge that he was a laborer, a rugged waterman. Did he have the spiritual gift of a Sabbath day in his week? I don’t know. But his body knew how to rest.

To be fully human, biologically and mentally and spiritually, we must rest. Doing, thinking, wondering, playing, [add any verb here] must cease for a time, and that time, that renewing, refreshing, resolving, resurrecting time may be just a power nap, or eight hours’ sleep or twenty minutes of meditation or three minutes of deep breathing or a quiet seat in the garden. The various screens of our lives have to be dark. The sounds muted. I look at that guy asleep on the boat and realize that no matter the roaring, chopping, buzzing lumps… I too can find rest. I can rest assured of that.

And that “day of rest” we aren’t at all good at observing, that Sabbath, that Sunday? As Walter Brueggemann writes, it’s “not about keeping rules but breathing new life and community into our anxious and competitive world.” (I got the feeling when I was a pastor that we church workers were the biggest offenders at ignoring the need for a day of rest. That “day off” may have been printed on the church calendar, but we let meetings and visits and phone calls interrupt, assuring ourselves that we were doing the Lord’s work.)

The thing is, of course, that the Genesis story says the Lord rested, and then called for a day of rest for everybody. And we Presbyterian-types have the Larger Catechism to remind us of the need — no, the demand — for “holy rest.” And there’s Jesus taking off every once in awhile, climbing up a mountain or into a boat to get away. Good for him.

In some ways, Lent is a period of rest in the Christian calendar, isn’t it? Time to slow down. Get quiet. Get settled. Breathe. Maybe give up and give in…like the man on the boat.

From what I’ve been seeing on the news, if we don’t rest now and then, our time to “rest in peace” will come way too early.

I’m taking a break for a day. Back on Monday.

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