The Benefits of Rest and Solitude

The Benefits of Rest and Solitude September 27, 2018

Sometimes, it’s easier said than done to take a respite from Orchard House. I don’t travel well, the only foods I can eat don’t travel too well, and with all the responsibilities we have at home or near home, we find staying around is often easier than trying to take a break. But when we do manage a vacay, we are better off for it.

Yesterday, we went antelope hunting, which took us you know where ….

Home, home on the range, where the deer and the antelope play, where seldom is heard, a discouraging word, and the skies are not cloudy all day.

We mostly drove around with our binoculars, doubting we would see any antelope. But we did. Quite a few, actually. When we did, we’d either get out of the truck and do the low crawl up to reasonable shooting range, or we’d wait around and see if they’d come toward us in curiosity. A little herd did end up approaching us. One doe was particularly curious, and she ran toward us in perfect position to get a shot off. Shaun hopped out of the truck, crawled onto the ground and fired off a shot, but, forgetting a few facts about his front sight, aimed high and missed. Still, the doe lingered until the rest of the herd passed her up and then it was as if her wits returned and she bounced off through the grasslands, over the fence, across the road, and into the wild blue yonder.

That blue yonder was undoubtedly a comfort to her. To me, also. Sometimes you don’t realize the depth of your need to take a break from the hustle and bustle, the noise of town, the chore list, needy people, needy pets, the book writing, the sound of the washing machine button blaring a silly song telling you your clothes are clean, or the blare of a raging political storm. All the noise and pressure to do, do, do, and the temptation to react, react, react can begin to feel like dark rain clouds closing in — kind of ominous, dangerous, and interesting all at once, but nevertheless, electric and high stress.

Scripture endorses resting …

And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. (Gen 2:2-3) God didn’t need rest, as He never tires. What He needed was to set a pattern for His creation, and part of that pattern is to work six days, rest one. To cease toiling and for 1/7 of our lives, chill.

Not an easy thing to do in America, where businesses are open 24/7, and making money trumps the holy practice of resting. Also not an easy thing to do in America, where the political environment is so hostile and seemingly on every screen one pulls up throughout the day, every day, even if one has unfollowed most political outlets (speaking of a friend, of course).
Regardless, Americans are not exempt from the need for a Sabbath, or the need to take the annual vacation. Humans needs a periodic getaway that is truly restful and light on hurry scurry. But to nix hurry scurry is to embrace some isolation, and I suspect many fear, rather than revere, isolation. When we are alone, we naturally must consider who we are, why we are here, what we believe, why we believe it. It’s a spiritual encounter that too few are willing to endure, because it leads to being introspective. It’s easier to get a move on, to believe whatever pops up on our screens and indulge in reacting emotionally. Not much deep thinking is going on when we’re living life in the fast lane, but busy-ness makes us feel useful. Somehow, “busy” has come to mean “important”, even if “busy” includes a plethora of needless, useless activities.

These past few weeks, we’ve likely all been physically busy, but also mentally and emotionally busy over the Ford vs. Kavanaugh debacle, not to mention stressed over what may be going on in our personal lives. I mean, at least our personal lives and characters were not sabotaged in front of the entire world, so there’s that. But no doubt, we’ve all had stress of many kinds. We all need rest. We all need a wee bit o’ solitude.

Time on an open range was restful for me. Nature is one of God’s ways of communicating with His people, and when we never encounter the prairie grass, the sunset, the antelope, the wind in our hair … the quiet, we suffer. Wittingly or unwittingly, we do ourselves a disservice when, for long periods of time, we refrain from true rest.

It sounds corny, but we need to stop and smell the roses. Or, if you’re like me, you stop and get a knee and hand full of cactus because you were too intent on the art of sneaking up on unsuspecting large game. Fortunately, God has given us dominion over the animals and the earth. Not because we deserve such a wonderful inheritance, but because He wants to connect with us, and reveal to us who He is. If we don’t take the time to rest in the ways He has patterned for us, we are missing out on a tremendous blessing.

Charles Spurgeon once said this when speaking of the need for an annual vacation:

“Our mind grows jaded, and our spirit depressed, our heart beats with diminished vigour, and our eyes lose their brightness, if we continue, month after month, and year after year, without a rest.”

The admonishment, then, is to take time to smell the rose, pick the pumpkin, swim with the dolphin, and take in the sunrise. In doing so, we will find it clears our minds, lifts our spirits, strengthens our hearts, and puts a sparkle in our eyes.


**Photo by madeleine ragsdale on Unsplash

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