Monday, May 25, 2009

Bold rest

As soon as my classwork, undergraduate grading, and brother’s graduation were out of the way, I took off on a much-needed vacation, my first break from schoolwork since I started my program two years ago (a near-break at least... I had to bring one small piece of work). I drove across the state of Virginia last week, visiting friends and family scattered in various towns from the mountains to the coast.
  • I enjoyed dear friends and their growing collection of fiancés, spouses, and children.
  • I watched about eight different movies.
  • I had a picnic where the James River meets the Blue Ridge Mountains.
  • I drove along the Blue Ridge Parkway.
  • I went to mass in downtown Lynchburg and had dinner with a priest afterwards.
  • I salsa danced on the outdoor patio of a Peruvian restaurant with an old friend.
  • I listened to a friend read a children’s book aloud against the music of the evening rain while I smoked my pipe.
  • I let myself buy two new CDs.
  • I painted three different watercolor paintings.
  • I walked a mile barefoot along railroad tracks.
  • I took a nap beside the James River.
  • I got a tour of a soon-to-be-renovated 100-year-old theater.
  • I took my grandmother out for dinner and breakfast.
  • I let my cousins take me out for some nocturnal festivities at their favorite bar, succeeding at being on the winning team of the arcade game and at managing the drinks they bought me without a hangover the next day.
  • I played a round of Frisbee golf.
  • I ate seafood at a restaurant on the beach.
  • I stuck my toes in the ocean.
  • I marveled at the stars over the darkness of the no-man’s-land on the way home.
My first name means “industrious,” and some have suggested that I am aptly named; at my high school graduation one of my teachers lauded me as a “doer.” Very rarely do I let myself enjoy moments without the need to be productive. Even when I try to reserve Sunday as a day without schoolwork, I manage to keep myself otherwise occupied with different kinds of tasks, normally with the justification that they have a spiritual or relational telos. But like the research for a graduate school paper, the work of life is infinite, and as long as there is life left there are tasks to fill it up.

My middle name happens to mean “grace.” Last week was a bold (for me) seizure of grace for the doer, grace to love the world and the people that God gives us like wrapped presents which require our attention to unwrap. The God who set up Sabbaths of days and weeks and years, who gave Sabbaths to his people and their slaves and their animals and even their land, is by no means stingy to us. This is true cause for Jubilee; it is the Gospel, and it is good news to a doer like me.

Indeed, I don’t mean to take Scripture too far out of context, but it is interesting to me that the author of Hebrews connects the new covenant God makes in Christ to rest. The climax of history has come, “the promise of entering his rest still stands” (Heb. 4:1), and “there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God” (Heb. 4:9). “Let us therefore strive to enter that rest” (Heb 4:11), the author exhorts us. For me, it is a bold exhortation.

1 comment:

Benjamin said...

Bold rest - I really like that :-) I'm glad you had such an awesome and Sabbath-y vacation.