Exhale

No, that wasn't just a blog post title. That was a command. Seriously.

Do it. Right now, wherever you are, exhale like you mean it.

Notice how your shoulders curve forward, how your chest caves ever so slightly, how your body makes a brief pause before taking in another dose of oxygen. Notice how the next breath you take fills a deeper part of you than before.

If we don't let go, we won't survive.

(Somebody, please tell me that again.)

We need the release as much as we need the intake.

We need to honor that symbiotic relationship of giving and receiving.

We need to exhale.

Summer is usually an exhale for me-a season of rest, of afternoon naps, of sand in my toes and a little sunburn on my shoulders.  But this summer, oh this summer, has been much different. 

It's looked like this:

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And this:

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And then someone handed me this like I'd know what to do with it:

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Funny how wisdom often comes at a time when you're in need of it most, and least likely to pay attention to it. Mark Buchanan's book The Rest of God was sent to me by a dear friend a few months ago, and she could not have chosen a better book. It was one of those moments when words and stars align, and the chapters seem to be written specifically for me.

It is a book about Sabbath, but it is not a book about legalism. It is a book about the God-given need for rest, but it is not a book about keeping commandments. It is a story with a familiar theme ("We are too busy.") and a gracious, freeing suggestion ("We were made to work and to rest.")

Buchanan writes,

"Sabbath is not the break we're allotted at the tail end of completing all our tasks and chores, the fulfillment of all our obligations. It's the rest we take smack-dab in the middle of them, without apology, without guilt, and for no better reason than God told us we could."

It's a beautiful book, the kind you don't want to finish before you've taken it to heart. 

So today, I sort of crashed. I laid down in our new apartment on our newly-acquired sofa (which was a miracle of epic proportions and deserves a post of its very own), read a book filled with nothing but quirk and wit, and ate a spoonful of Nutella. (Okay, okay. I ate three spoonfuls of Nutella. I didn't say I rolled to a stop, people; I said I crashed!) I made no apologies, offered no excuses, just soaked in an afternoon of an open agenda.

And it was bliss.  

Tomorrow, there is plenty to do. We're out of bread, we could use a trip to Ikea,, and there's a letter I've been meaning to write for weeks. But I'd like to think I'll be better for all those things-to-do's because I buffered it with some space, some exhaling, and some spoonfuls of Nutella.