This week, a departure for Kevin and me, a Sabbath rest:
Tucked away, pulled back from the busy road and held–but lightly–by the trees, we hide beneath the fog. Sound is magnified here, somehow, or perhaps it is that other noise removed leaves room for hearing birdsong, the cheeky chatter of squirrels, the deep-throated gurgle of tree frogs.
Here, we agree on the need for departure.
Yesterday, or maybe the day before (we have allowed for the dissolution of schedule and time, so I don’t know), we spot a turtle on the path, meandering, and we stop to consider the bright pattern of lines across its shell, the smooth intricacy. Here, we line up our hands palm to palm. We line up our thoughts too, and they blur about the edges, like the borders between us. I give thanks for oneness, because I never really know where he ends and I begin.
“I see more gray hair these days, around your face,” he says, and I laugh and reach for the rough skin around his jaw.
“And you’re still that guy,” I say. “All these years, and you’re still that guy.”
He breathes and I breathe; we breathe. We are too close to home to be completely removed from the rhythms of our normal life, and the truth is that our kids live with too much responsibility, too much potential for emergency, for us ever to breathe unaware, no matter where we are physically. But this week, we have stretched our Sabbath moments and found quiet pockets for listening. And as the insects crescendo, we exhale thanksgiving for seeing, for Light, for the first faint hints of red and gold in the leaves, the sight of trees jeweled with red berries, the colors of sunset reflected in water.
For the first three days, clouds held this place in shadow, like a palm-cupped treasure. I look at the sky and see the veil of my own emotion, the thickness I carry but never really have the inclination to attend to preferentially. We all have these clouds, and sometimes we feel swallowed up by them and sometimes the Light breaks through and reveals the blue of sky, the golden waves collaborating for the green of leaves and grass. I don’t have to dissect the clouds to consent to the Light that diffuses them. Today, that Light shines, warm.
Here, we agree again on Sabbath days, when we close down the screens and remove the noise and just decide to breathe, to see, to laugh, to taste the sweet things and hold them on our tongues. Here, we agree on finding those carved out and set aside places with our children too, on drawing away together just to sit in God’s hands, to gather grace gifts in our fingers. Sometimes we need little more than the space to notice the flecks of color in each other’s hair. All this connection in our lives—the tones and clatter of keys, the motion of quick thumbs across the digital gloss—it’s good and wide and even happily effective, mostly. It dissolves miles of distance. And some use it better for building, for sharing, for gathering. But here, we agree that sometimes the constancy and availability of media can keep us from noticing simple stunning things like the way leaves drift down from the trees or the sudden profundity of sunlight. We can miss the glint of webs in the grass; the thin, nearly invisible gossamer holding everything together; the dew drops shining like diamonds. We can miss the testimony etched right into living.
So here, hidden well beneath the fog, we agree on the need for departure. We agree that it’s significant and also good to draw away, to fast from distraction.
We agree that our Sabbaths need not be a legalistic observance anymore but instead should be a grateful and intentional celebration of grace upon grace. As with every undeserved gift, we steal away the joy of it when we grow more critical than we are compassionate, when we assume that another’s appreciation of rest can be measured in exactly the same way, at the same time, even concocted of the same formula or balance. I cannot tell anyone else how to receive Light nor how to capture it, but only that it is—He is–and that it changes everything about living to see Him, to feel Him, to know Him.
Held carefully separate, we hear clearly the testimony of God. We catch stanzas sometimes quietly, sometimes shaped with words and phrases—magical, wild, beautiful. And together, we exhale thanksgiving, especially for the precious souls who allow us, by their own sacrifices, the grace to slip away and embrace peace.