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mantra: read, write, rest

“When you live in God, your day begins when you lose yourself long enough for God to find you, and when God finds you, to lose yourself again in praise.” Barbara Taylor Brown

When I was in graduate school, I had a mantra that often helped me through days of intensive study. “Read. Write. Rest. Repeat.” Recently, I’ve found those words re-entering my life. They’ve changed slightly, but they still seem to do the trick. They offer me a pattern that engages, fulfills and restores. Work can be substituted for write and often exercise makes its way into the rest category. Bottom line - my rhythm feels pretty simple and I love it.

It was little surprise, therefore, when I reached for my Kindle yesterday and noticed I was still on the chapter, "Sabbath", in An Altar in the World. My highlighter has worked overtime in this book, (yes, I still underline and make notes in my books – how else will those who read after me know what I found important?) but the passage that stood out today spoke of the lighting of two candles on Shabbat - how one is for rest and the other freedom. The intertwining of those two concepts - freedom and rest - reminds me not only of my mantra, but also the larger notion that without rest, freedom is very likely absent.

It is a fine balance we walk in this world that says productivity is god. Barbara Brown Taylor says this is worshiping the wrong god, and I wholeheartedly agree. So, it was with great pleasure yesterday that I curled up with my cat and my book and found a piece of Sabbath in the midst of a potentially full day. I slowed down just enough for God to find me and for that I am grateful and offer up my praise. It's amazing what happens when I get out of my own way!!

So, do you have a mantra? What does it offer you? Productivity? Sabbath? Both? Neither? Do tell!

www roses by lucy

Reader Comments (13)

Lovely post. I've been doing something similar, just giving myself time to take in art, to relax with a good book, to go for a walk.

I love that notion that through rest we gain freedom.

June 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMaureen

Not so much a mantra, as a motto: When in doubt, wash dishes. I may have mentioned that here before.

Yesterday in the freshman English class I teach, we discussed an excerpt from The Autobiography of Malcolm X in which he teaches himself to read in prison by copying the entire dictionary. He says he had never been so free until that time of his life.

June 15, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterThe Pollinatrix

maureen - i, too, love the idea of rest leading to freedom. we seem to forget the commandment of keeping the sabbath which sits right alongside those other thou shalt not's such as killing & idolizing other gods.

June 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlucy

polli - your motto is definitely a keeper!!! do you perchance have the excerpt from malcolm x handy? my son has been quite taken with the dictionary and i think he would find that reading quite valuable.

June 15, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlucy

I am in the midst of seeing that my moments with God can be different from an established pattern...although I feel whole heartedly I must have some pattern for myself. I've wondered lately how much "alone time" Jesus had once his popularity escalated. Not that my life is a match to that, but very little privacy means I am finding God speaking in population rather than in a quiet moment all to myself.

My mantra since March - "All is well, I trust the process of life." As I look at what I've written here in response to your post...I find that mantra quite interesting in terms of where I am now compared to the exhaustive amount of personal time I have in other seasons of the year...hmmmm.

Thank you as always for sharing...I am better for it.

June 16, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

Ooh, I like this. Gotta get a handle on the rest part, though; I seem to be stuck in read, write, repeat!

June 17, 2010 | Unregistered

jennifer - i love to see you come here and do a little processing in my presence - i am better for it, yes! i agree that god most often shows up in surprising places that are outside my normal patterns. i was working with a woman who described an experience of healing - her response was "that's not supposed to happen there," because it was a place where she wouldn't typically expect to find god. guess that shows us what we can do with our patterns and expectations, huh?

June 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlucy

drw - perhaps if you remember rest = freedom, you might find a way to fit it in :-)

June 17, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlucy

I think that is exactly what I'm learning about living; "on earth as it is in heaven" isn't confined to a set of processes and is way more spontaneous than that. If only I could adapt to that a bit better :)!

Thank you for allowing me this space to share with you, I find it so refreshing.

June 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

jennifer - i love the ongoing conversation. so glad you're here!

June 21, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlucy

I don't have one...but I think I need to come up with one. I've been in a curious place recently--I have been wanting to rest, but I feel guilty about not being productive, so I find myself spending a great deal of time in mind-numbing activities. Not resting, not productive--and feeling guilty. Perhaps I need to acknowledge the need for rest, allow the rest, and then move on. Also, it seems like I need to commit--commit to the productivity, or commit to the rest, but never waste internal peace with wavering.

June 23, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Karen - you do realize you came up with your own mantra in another comment, right? I think it goes something like this - relax, ask, listen... Sounds perfect for where you find yourself - methinks ;) xoxo

June 23, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterlucy

I will read write and rest when my children and grandchildren have gone back home. In fact it will be more like pray garden read write and rest...


June 27, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterclaire

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