by Hope Cook
Mary Oliver says in her poem When Death Comes, “When it’s over, I want to say: all my life / I was a bride married to amazement.”
While we were on the road this past weekend, we stopped at a rest stop and I reflected on “rest stops.” I watched as people scurried from their cars and speed-walked inside to use the restroom, then hopped back in their cars and sped away. The only people who seemed interested in resting at the rest stop were either old people with little yip-yap dogs or children. I watched as a little girl, probably 18 months, toddled around and squatted to look at every root and flower on the ground. She seemed enthralled by the magic of it all. She then made her way unsteadily towards a tree. When she came to it, she examined it the way an alien to earth might examine it. She touched the bark, peeked around it, walked around it, gazed up towards the branches. She was clearly amazed by this strong stick in the ground.
Nature is our best way of connecting to the Divine. This is like Face-timing with God. You can’t sit in nature, even if it’s sitting on the stoop of your office building, without noticing something about nature. You might look up at the sky and wonder about the weather, you might notice the temperature or the breeze or the pollen, but you’ll notice.
At this stage in my life, it feels like I live on an interstate. There are rest stops available at regular intervals, but I rarely get off and pull in and park. I’m making it a point during this Lenton season to schedule rest stops. If I manage to go outside during lunch, it’s like hitting the reset button on my mind. I’m temporarily not thinking about work, I’m noticing. Sit and notice … notice the smells, the breeze, the clouds, the sounds. Rather than take away sugar or wine during Lent, try adding rest stops instead.
In Mark 6:30 Jesus even advised his workers to take a break and rest:
The apostles gathered around Jesus, and told him all that they had done and taught. He said to them, “Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.