February has come and gone and summer has left us in its wake. It’s been a full month, so I thought I’d just share a few of my favourite things from February.
- Book – Burial Rites by Hannah Kent. I’ve been a little late to the party on this one since it’s taken me two years to finally get to it. At Adelaide Writers Week in 2014 I had the pleasure of hearing Hannah share a little of the background to writing the book. This is a beautifully written novel based on real events in northern Iceland in 1829. Agnes Magnúsdóttir was the last person to be executed in Iceland, convicted for her part in the murders of two men. As she waits for her execution date Agnes is sent to live with District Officer Jón Jónsson, his wife and two daughters on their farm. I actually listened to the audiobook which was wonderfully read and made it much easier to cope with the unfamiliar Icelandic names. I was transported into the story, the characters drawn with empathy and insight. This is a book that will stay with me for a long time.
- Music – Audrey Assad’s new album Inheritance was released this month. A combination of wonderful hymns and original songs, I’m having trouble picking a favourite song. Some lovely versions of beloved hymns such as “Be Thou My Vision” and “It Is Well with My Soul” notwithstanding, there are two beautiful original songs (“New Every Morning” and “Even Unto Death”) which have been an accompanying me as a daily soundtrack in the last week or two. I’ll let you choose a favourite for yourself:
- Prayer Sunday – this year at church we are beginning a new practice of devoting one worship gathering per month specifically for prayer. This month we focussed on the presence of the Lord, and I was delighted to see how we embraced the invitation to be in prayer and silence with each other. One thing I asked people to consider were the ways in which they feel closest to God, and I shared the images below, inviting them to notice which ones they felt most drawn toward. It was wonderful to hear people sharing the different ways that they feel God’s presence with them. It may not surprise you to know that one of my favourite ways of connecting with God is to spend time out in nature – I love the invitation of a bench in a park or garden. Which images resonate with you?
- The Fringe Festival – Think circus and jazz in a 19th century barroom and you might have a small idea of what to expect from “Scotch and Soda.” Mind-boggling feats of balance, acrobatics, trapeze artistry, and hi-jinks, accompanied by a lively group of jazz musicians. A fun time was had by all.
Sometimes it’s hard to know what to say, how to adore God in a way that doesn’t sound trite or rehearsed, or like we’re simply going through the motions. Sometimes we need a little help. One great way is to read scripture, and pray out of our response to it. But there are other ways of creatively meeting God in prayer.
Recently I was leading prayer at church and I brought along a few objects to provide a little inspiration. Feathers, stones, gift tags, sprigs of rosemary and some crocheted hearts.
I invited people to come and take one or more of the objects and to spend a few minutes listening and reflecting on what God was showing them about himself or about what he has done. Then I invited people to pray their responses aloud.
It was wonderful to see how the Lord used those ordinary items to inspire fresh expressions of adoration to him.
For myself I chose a stone and a heart. As I held them in my hand I was reminded that God is my Rock, that Jesus is the precious cornerstone and a sure foundation. I was reminded of how much he loves me. The two items side by side reminded me of how God removes the heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh.
Have you ever tried anything like this? If not, consider collecting one or two ordinary items from around your house or garden.
Spend a few minutes holding an item in your hands. Pay attention to what it feels like – smooth or rough, soft or hard – feel the weight of it in your hand. Notice the colours, patterns and the details. If it has a scent (like the rosemary we used) then smell it. You may want to rub it between your fingers or bruise it to draw out the fragrance. If your item is edible you might want to taste it.
Whatever you notice, whatever the Lord shows you, use that to reflect praise and adoration back to him.
If you try this out, or if it’s a normal practice for you, I’d love to hear about your experience. Please share in the Comments.
It’s time again for monthly musings, and this time I just wanted to reflect for a few minutes on writing through the month of October. This isn’t new, other writers have been here before. But this my path, and these are the things I’ve discovered for myself.
- Letting go of perfectionism. When you have to post every day, there isn’t enough time to write and rewrite to get it perfect. At some point you have to decide it’s good enough and press Publish.
- Writing to deadline. Lots and lots of short deadlines means you have to keep showing up and putting pen to paper and fingers to the keyboard. Even when you don’t have any great ideas and aren’t feeling inspired.
- Writing on the same topic every day. Writing and posting on the same topic every day for a month makes it easier and harder. Easier because you have a frame to work within. Harder because you have to keep finding new elements, new perspectives to keep the topic interesting.
- I still don’t have a solution for procrastination. Deadlines help, but they can also mean that you just get less sleep so you can hit Publish before midnight. Ironic when you’re writing about rest – but then I knew that was a risk from the beginning.
- Uncovering insights. Sometimes I don’t realise what ideas or insights I have on a topic until I’ve started writing. I might think I have nothing to say, until I start to say it. Sometimes it just unfolds in the process of writing. That’s a weird feeling, but also good.
- But wait, there’s more. Even though the series has ended I know that there’s a lot more about rest to be discovered and practised. This is really just the beginning of finding the rhythm of rest, and I fully expect to be writing about it more in the future. As they say, watch this space.
What did you discover in October?
Image credit: morguefile.com
As we come to the end of this series on the Rhythm of Rest, I hope that you’ve enjoyed it and have found something helpful for your own situation. It’s been a pleasure and privilege to explore this theme with you, and wonderful to hear from some of you about how it has blessed you. I would also like to point you towards some other resources that you may find helpful as you continue to explore and establish the rhythm of rest.
This is a list of books I have either read or plan to read, that explore rest in some way:
If you know of any other books worth reading please let me know in the Comments.
The following music has been meaningful to me and I share this list in the hope that you may also find it helpful:
- “Come to me” by Bethel Music & Jenn Johnson (on the album The Loft Sessions)
- “Dwell” by Aaron Keyes (on the album Dwell)
- “Receive” by Brian Morykon (on the album The Smallest Seed)
- “Rest in me” by Ann-Maree Keefe (on the album Cryptology)
- “Restless” by Audrey Assad (on the album The House You’re Building)
- “You speak” by Audrey Assad (on the album Fortunate Fall)
- “Worn” by Tenth Avenue North (on the album The Struggle)
(These songs are also available individually on iTunes.)
I’m also appreciating the music of Alberto & Kimberly Rivera (I’ve been listening to their albums Yearnings and Live Soaking Sessions, Vol 1 but there are plenty of others to explore).
Finally, let me bless you in the name of Jesus, to experience glorious refreshing rest and joy in his presence. May you learn the life-sustaining rhythms of work and rest as you walk with the Lord. And may you flourish in the fullness of his love for you.
This is Day 31 of The Rhythm of Rest series (Write 31 Days challenge).
Image credits: morguefile.com
I did something today that I haven’t done much of in a while. When I got home from work, I dumped my bags, fed the cats (it didn’t seem right to make them wait any longer), and I went for a walk.
There’s a new wetlands area being developed near my house, so I followed the paths around the ponds. I sat on a bench and as the sun dipped in the sky and the air became cooler, I sang to the Lord, I talked and I listened. I breathed in and I breathed out. I rested in his presence.
I often feel closest to the Lord when I spend time appreciating nature, so it made sense to me that finding rest in the Lord could incorporate time spent in nature.
When and how do you feel closest to the Lord? And how might he be inviting you to rest in his presence?
This is Day 26 of The Rhythm of Rest series (Write 31 Days challenge).