Winter’s Call to Rest

Look well to the growing edge… it is the breath from the exhausted lung, the one more thing to try when all else as failed, the upward reach of life when weariness closes in upon all endeavor. This is the basis of hope in moments of despair, the incentive to carry on when times are out of joint and men have lost their reason, the source of confidence when worlds crash, and dreams whiten into ash.

Rev. Dr. Howard Thurman, For the Inward Journey: The Writings of Howard Thurman, selected by Anne Spence Thurman.
Winter field, barren, trees, snow and grey skies
Winter field in Montgomery County, MD

I came around the curve on a country road and saw this field. Quiet. Snow-crusted. Resting.

I reflected on this season of Lent. A season of introspection, waiting, listening, and preparing. I also reflected on this season of a global pandemic, and all of the ways the world has been changed.

It’s been 12 months since we started rolling lock-downs, social distancing, masks, COVID tests and restrictions on visits and travel. 12 months since I wandered through a store, pointlessly looking at displays and sales racks. 12 months of handwashing and doorknob cleaning and PPE and avoiding large group gatherings. 12 months of death. 12 months of weariness.

This weariness creeps into our souls. It undermines who we see and how we interact. It forces isolation from casual contact, even from family members who are not in our “bubble,” our households.

It has taken away our reserve, our flexibility, our desire to persist. Time is “out of joint” as Dr. Thurman says. The predictable rhythms of church, school, sports and family life are all different. And as we watch the re-telling of the events of January 6, 2021, it is seems to be a time where “men have lost their reason.”

I want more. To be honest, I have less and less interest in making this disjointed, dystopian health crisis work any more. It’s like the calendar is stuck in a perpetual grid of rules, and COVID tests, and PPE.

“It is winter in Narnia,” said Mr. Tumnus, “and has been for ever so long… always winter, but never Christmas.”

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

We are all like the frozen, fallow field I saw. Nothing seems to be changing. We feel stifled, unused, and… possibly dead. Everything we used to do is reframed in the necessities of protecting one another from a deadly virus. Every person we see steps back, steps away, dis-engaged by distance and masks… we fight for every ounce of feeling like a community, of knowing we matter to one another.

What is the remedy for this Pandemic Malaise? I think it is simply – REST. Take a break. Hit the pause button. Put it in neutral. Call it what you wish, but the answer is to take time to regroup.

You see, fields lie fallow in the winter, waiting for the right time to be plowed and turned over. The rocks and debris are removed. The wise farmer tests the soil, considers what it last grew well, and what it needs for new growth, or a new kind of crop. But before all that happens… the soil rests.

So I am tending my heart these days, noticing where I hurt, where I am worn, and where I might change my focus and my growth plan. It’s scary stuff. The new crop could fail! I could be completely unsuccessful… but you know, in God’s economy, listening, waiting, praying and then acting is always a good investment.

photo of trees in a winter field (c) Rev. Deb Vaughn

Where the path lies between the weeds and the trees, there you will hear the whisper of God’s peace. Stand there and listen… As they bend in the wind, bowing to the greater force, the hoped-for answers, you will know that abiding Rest for your soul. So… rest. wait. dream. pray. listen… and be. I am enough. You are enough. Beloveds, all of us.

Blessings and peace – Deb

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