BREATHE

Breathe Avellanas Beach

Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. Exodus 20:8

The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath. Mark 2:27,28

The sun shone brightly and I wanted so badly to go outside and play, yet here I was tossing on my bed with a slight breeze stirring the sheer curtains of my room. When it rained or clouded over this ritual was no trial, but today, my active mind and body would not settle down for my nap. I briefly looked through some books to see if that might tire me, but at ten years of age, being quite active, I could not focus on reading for long. If only I could nap a bit, then I would be free to go outside and explore in the nearby wood.

My family observed resting on the Sabbath. For us that meant that on Sundays, we went to church, ate fried chicken for lunch, cleaned up and then took a nap. Later we could play outside, or inside play games. In the evening, mom would get a break from food preparation while dad either whipped up his deep dish apple pie, banana splits, or the aroma of popping corn flooded the house with his orange juice and Kool Aid  punch for our evening fare.

When I married at nineteen and left home, I carried this tradition with me. Napping each Sunday afternoon was my rest for the week. Then after the babies came along, it was a necessity to recharge and have that time free with my husband helping to put the children all down for a rest.

Yet, when I was in my twenties and a pastor’s wife we attended two services on Sunday. I attended classes at the local college, I worked part time as a waitress, then I cleaned and baked on Saturdays. I began to feel low on energy. Where was our rest?

As a single mom in my early thirties, I wrestled with finding my rest as I worked to complete my teaching degree and raise four children. 

Then one summer my children and I discovered the Sabbath. 

I worked and studied hard in school while the kids had their favorite teenager, Charlie, short for Charlotte, who played with them, took them for rides, and in between her mom’s swim classes taught in their backyard pool, my children splashed and played until we all converged in the early afternoon.

On Fridays I packed up a lunch with drinks, straw mats rolled up, towels, changes of clothing, and then with a shirt and shorts pulled over top their swim suits, my four children scurried down the porch steps and into the waiting car for our day together at South Padre Island, only forty-five minutes away.Freed from studies and  chores, our laughter, conversation, and play revived. No  budget problems to solve or facts from volumes of textbooks that waited to cram into my mind crowded my thoughts.

Carefree, I listened to the soothing regularity of the waves. I breathed in deeply fresh air from the constant offshore breezes.

Here in my sandy cathedral, I would give my confession of my fears and weaknesses. When I encountered this great God who created vast oceans and this Gulf of Mexico my problems shrank in comparison. He put my fears to rest with a sweet peace that could not be manufactured. This was his preliminary answer to my prayers. 

So much anticipation and joy came from this summer tradition. Sundays were busy with two services, then a big Sunday dinner; but Fridays were holy.

Once I started teaching, I became exhausted and it dawned on me that I had violated the Sabbath rest that God commanded for my good. I still got a nap in on Sundays, but I neglected taking a total day to gain the rest that my body, soul, and spirit required.

I asked God what I could do for a Sabbath and he gave me a strategy. I began to take Saturday as my day to restrain from work. I would throw laundry in the washer before school and do loads in the evenings and we would clean during the week, but I read books, went on walks, played tennis, took naps, and enjoyed my family on Saturdays. 

Now that I am retired, I have a busy schedule with children, grandchildren, my husband, substituting, and volunteer work. But, I take the liberty to rest one day during the week and to just follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Sometimes my nose is in a book, sometimes I share time at lunch with a family member or a friend. I go for a swim. I spend a day with family. Sometimes I browse through photos daydreaming about pleasant memories from the past. I thank God for this command of rest, just to bless me. I contentedly sit and just breathe. 

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