Today as I was driving to a friend's house, down a road I travel frequently, I noticed for the first time the benches that the neighborhood had placed along the side of the road. I was struck suddenly by the fact that they had been placed facing away from the busy street. Not even in between the street and the sidewalk, facing the walkers and runners (busy being healthier than the rest of us), but away from everything. And it's really not as if there was a spectacular view inspiring this decision. Just some trees and rather typical Florida foliage ie domesticated jungle land.
As I drove away, I thought about other types of seating I see commonly and realized that almost all of them still serve as a jumping off point, a place to prepare for the next activity. A public bench at a bus stop faces the road so you can anticipate the bus coming so you can get on it to go somewhere. A dining table chair faces the table so you can eat and talk with those gathered around it. A couch often faces a TV so you can conveniently watch whatever is on. Even when we're sitting, were not usually in a fully restful state. We're anticipating, readying, planning, doing. So often I set aside 'rest time' but walk away feeling more exhausted than before I sat down.
Our posture doesn't always reflect the normally adjacent activity.
Just because we're reading, doesn't mean we're learning. Just because we're kneeling, doesn't mean we're praying. Just because we're sitting, doesn't mean we're resting. It has always seemed odd to me, the idea of needing to become disciplined in truly resting, but it's sooo important.
This bench being turned around reminded me that it's ok if you have to literally pick up your bench and turn it around to help you rest and your mind to quiet. If we aren't quite at a point where we can turn everything off and shut everything out at the drop of a hat, in any environment (which let's be real...), it is ok to help yourself out. For instance, in college, studying in a coffee shop always sounded so idilic to me. -- "Oh you know i'll just be over here listening to *insert underground music* wearing my *insert made in India clothing brand* working on my *insert Math 101 homework for this really cool special math class Theatre Majors get to take...it was awesome* (One of these is real.) -- I just thought that would be the coolest, and some of my friends really could do it! It was amazing!! I, on the other hand, would get NOTHING done. And I mean if I went in Java City with 4 problems done, I would somehow walk out with 2. NOTHING .
So I learned to stay in the library by myself while studying, or be with one or two friends working on the same stuff.
Anyway, point being, it just reminded me that sometimes you just gotta turn your bench around, away from the busy road, away from the runners and roller bladers, away from the SUPER precious puppies on their leashes and the baby in the stroller who kind of looks like Carl from 'Up', but is also super cute. NONE of these things is bad. Obvi. But they may not be appropriate if what we're going for is true rest. I learned a phrase recently at work that has really stuck with me. It states that, " 'No' is a complete sentence." Man oh man. That one slapped me across the head. It's unfortunately taught to us often that it is selfish to say no to a chance to fellowship with others, because we need rest, or quiet time. HI. HELLO. WHAT BIBLE HAVE WE BEEN READING. Even Jesus took time to himself to rest.
If our belief is correct -- that quiet, restful time is not valid when there's some way we could be fellowshipping or serving , then technically Jesus should have denied all meals and only slept as little as humanly possible because goodness, he could have been out healing everyone and preaching, every second of the day! Now if he comes back and you want to tell him that, be my guest. I'll be over here behind this rock, while he lol's.
And yes, I believe Jesus lol's on the daily.
So don't be afraid to turn your bench around. If you're a planner, schedule what my INCREDIBLE friend Holly calls 'protected time' and honor that! It is AS important as that dentist appointment or karaoke night at Applebee's...or babysitting that cute baby that looks like Carl from 'Up'.