The great thing about the first few weeks after delivering a child is that no one in the world expects anything of you. In fact, people are shocked if they see you out. No one in line at Starbucks wants to be told that your kid is 5 days old. It makes them uncomfortable. (Even if you explain that you have to buy a latte in order to get your parking validated because there were no spots at the pediatrician’s lot. Don’t judge me!) There’s also the whole thing with your body being in total upheaval. Your stomach is an empty, organless land (at least it feels that way when you sink your fist into the gobs of skin). And your body actually tells you if you do too much. More bleeding = bad job resting, Mama.
I love that. I’m absolutely thankful that my mother is here and doesn’t expect me to do much besides feed my baby and snuggle his big brother. Because yesterday, I tried to skip my afternoon nap and ended up feeling a little pathetic by 5 pm, my mom insisted I lie down today. I’m obeying because I have only a few more days to be pampered before she goes home. And I’m going to be grateful and healed up before she leaves.
As I reread through parts of Esther de Waals’ The Celtic Way of Prayer yesterday, I was reminded of an ancient Celtic prayer that I couldn’t help but love the first time I read it:
Bless to me, O God, The earth beneath my foot, Bless to me, O God, The path whereon I go; Bless to me, O God, The thing of my desire, Thou Evermore of evermore. Bless Thou to me my rest.
Bless to me the thing Whereon is set my mind, Bless to me the thing Whereon is set my love; Bless to me the thing Whereon is set my hope; O Thou King of kings Bless thou to me mine eye! (91)
“Bless Thou to me my rest.” Since I first read those words a few months ago, my mind can’t move past that line when I read this prayer. It seems to me that it takes a lot of courage to ask God to bless the rest we take, the space we make for rest in our lives, so that Sabbath can be real and nourishing.
Our culture despises rest. It wants us to feel guilty about it. It wants us to judge our lives and our productivity by our lack of it. “I’m really busy” is our societal form of “I’m really important; I matter.”
We should be in constant struggle to live counter-culturally in this sense: to believe in rest and cling to it. I’m not usually winning in that struggle. But, there are moments when I am forced into authentic and beautiful rest. When I can sit and read and nurse my baby and accept help and take naps.
So, in this Lenten season, wherever each of us in our seasons of life, wouldn’t it be beautiful if we prayed that God would bless to us our rest? Whatever and however that happens…