Thursday, June 30, 2011

Like a Bird on a Ledge

Between June 13-20, my daughter, my fifteen-month-old grandson and I traveled to Mississippi to visit with my son-in-law before his deployment to the Middle East. The first day we traveled all the way from Moore, Oklahoma, to Vicksburg, Mississippi. Actually, we tried to find a motel starting in Monroe, Louisiana, and everywhere we stopped was filled up and so we ended up driving to Vicksburg, which was the absolute furthest I had contemplated driving. The next day, we visited the Vicksburg Military Park for about 4 hours, swam at the hotel, and then ate a nice dinner at a local restaurant. The next day, we traveled to Camp Shelby to pick up my son-in-law, Rhea, who had leave from Thursday-Sunday, but was able to leave base on Wednesday afternoon. We then drove to Biloxi, Mississippi, checked into our hotel, and then ate seafood on the gulf coast.

My task was to provide childcare for my grandson 24-7, so my daughter and her husband could spend as much time together as possible except for occasions when we all went somewhere together. They had their own room and my grandson and I shared a room. I guess it truly was more service than sabbath, but it gave me a whole new appreciation for single parenting. While my grandson was well-behaved for a 15-month-old, he wore me out!

So what is the relationship between sabbath and service? When we all went to the beach and waded in the gulf, or ate meals together, or fished in a backwater inlet, the fellowship was great notwithstanding the dread of knowing it was short-lived. I am deciding that one way of remembering the sabbath is to be able to set apart a few minutes here and there, and not just a long block of time. It is amazing to reflect on God in the midst of his wondrous creation! One moment that stands out to me was that my grandson Kendrick caught his very first fish! Unfortunately, I took the picture of him and the fish on my cell phone and it is so old that I cannot figure out how or even if the picture can be downloaded. (My technology guru son says it cannot be done). It was very difficult to say goodbye and the picture of Kendrick waving bye to his daddy is heartwrenching. As of today, Rhea is on his way overseas for the next 9-11 months.

As I journey through this challenging time with my daughter and grandson, I realize how exhausting it is emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. I really need to get a handle on this Sabbath thing. I need margins in my life and less scheduled times. I also realize how much I personally need solitude with no one else around, including family. I am reminded of Bob Biehl's statement years ago, that we all need times where we are resting "like a bird on a ledge." Have you ever watched a bird just sitting for a long time on a ledge? I have so much difficulty just being and not doing something. Adele Calhoun, in her Spiritual Disciplines Handbook (2005), defines solitude as "to leave people behind and enter into time alone with God" (13). Calhoun defines sabbath as "to set apart one day a week for rest and worship of God" (13). It is with the "rest" portion of that definition that I have trouble. Lord, help me to regularly set aside time to rest in You, "like a bird on a ledge."

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