The scarlet Cardinal sings somewhere above my head. I look for him in the neighbors tree, the one to my right, with the low branches that kiss the picket tops of our privacy fence. Staring through the sprawling brown mesh of shaggy bark, I hope for a glimpse of him. He lets loose another shrill excerpt from his evening song; I shield my brow and look again without success. Closing my eyes, I give up and allow myself to simply listen. I don’t, after all, need to see him to enjoy his presence. I notice other sounds–the wind whips, and the thick rustle of newly birthed leaves hush the noise that rumbles inside of me, the thoughts that rattle at the bars of my limited understanding, the internal noise that always threatens true rest.
The sun is slipping down to my left, just barely above the treetops now, and that mysterious cardinal calls out above the increasing whooshing of the wind, billowing it’s way through the branches of our lone Maple. I hear but do not see. The wind lifts my hair and takes my breath away with it’s pushing, but I only feel the wall of it pressing in–I can’t see it either.
The sheer volume of the unseen stills me in my suburban backyard. I notice all of it, for maybe the first time in months. It all feels outrageously extraordinary–one beautiful symphony played by the glory of creation. Tears gather in the corners of my eyes without warning or explanation. The sudden awareness of how tiny I truly am bends me low, I stand barefoot in this sanctuary. That illusive cardinal trills on, his high-pitched tune cascading down from the rafters of heaven. These natural sounds, so different from the kind that usually clog my creativity and stall my art. This melody invites a quiet contemplation and a reverent embrace of stillness.
In these moments, God raises His gentle finger to my lips and hushes me with the intent of inviting me to really hear. My Sabbath bleeds over from Sunday, into Monday and right on through the week. It passes over into the week after, and the one after that, and the quieter I allow myself to become, the more I suddenly hear.
It’s more than the stealthy cardinal, or the bullying wind that grab my attention. I hear the lullabies of restoration and healing coming. I find rest at the art table set up in my room, with glue between my fingers and traces of glitter on the cheeks of my girls. My own soul is learning to listen, to transcribe what it hears not in words but through images, and swaths of color. Art comes by way of listening, which comes by way of being hushed and stilled–all of which come by way of embracing a Sabbath.
I create a picture, a single child holding a crimson balloon, reminiscent of the cardinal. Cotton candy clouds flank the sky above her and a poem scrapped from a children’s book invites me to put my heart to the ground and listen until I understand.
This is Sabbath unfolding.
My heart presses hushed against the Fathers, and I listen, in hopes of understanding. I come with my own agenda, my own list of questions and an eagerness to know what I don’t know. But as I learn to embrace Sabbath, I’m reminded that it is a gift–rest, a glorious gift too often unopened out of fear, or misplaced expectations.
Come to me, He calls, and I will give you rest.
*Sharing this post in community over at The High Calling, based around the theme of “Keeping The Sabbath”.