What do you do, where do you go, when you need to rest and reset?
June is a full month for us over here. I leave in 10 days for 10 days (more about that in next week’s post) and as soon as I get back, Nick leaves for a few days.
A few months ago some of our friends offered to let us stay at their river house (pronounced “rivah” if you’re a local) in the Northern Neck of Virginia. We love it out there and gratefully accepted their invitation. I’ve been so excited the last few weeks as our weekend getaway got closer. This spring has been full, and it came on the heels of a full winter. It’s been a while since just Nick and I had some time to relax and regroup together.
On Sunday afternoon we began our journey to the little town with great seafood and not much to do other than rest and relax. We dropped off Britt with some friends who love hosting her, and we found a great little diner for dinner as we drove. Once we got there, we binged The West Wing, read a lot of books, laid by the pool, and spent hours on the porch reading.
Yesterday morning as we sat on the screened porch and read, a storm rolled in.
As rain drops fell harder and harder and the trees rustled in the wind and under the falling water’s weight, I thought about another rainstorm, one I actually helped create.
Each fall as a teenager I went with my youth group on a weekend retreat. I wrote about it over here, but one thing I didn’t write about was a ritual our youth leader led every year on the night we arrived.
We gathered in the open-air pavilion where we would worship throughout the weekend. We couldn’t see it at night, but all around us was a view of the Frio river, it’s banks and towering trees. Everything was lush and green.
A few hundred of us sat on the wooden steps and babbled while we waited for activities to begin.
After a few minutes our youth minister would begin walking through the space, pantomiming and dividing us off into sections. He motioned for us to be quiet. Little by little a hush fell over the space. All we could hear was the rustling of the trees in the wind as we waited expectantly.
He continued pantomiming and invited the first section of students to mimic his action: rubbing their hands together. He moved around the space inviting the next group, the next, and the next all to join in. It sounded like light rain.
Then, he went back to the beginning and had the first group begin to snap. Snap, snap, snap, snap, snap. Slowly the rubbing palms all transitioned into snapping fingers and our rain fell harder.
Next, he motioned for us to pat our hands on our thighs. The sound of rain grew louder.
Finally, we copied him and stomped our feet on the ground. Hundreds of excited teenagers stomping as loud as possible—thunder.
We smiled at each other in delight.
He began making his way back to the first group, who melted their motions back into thigh taps. Then snaps. Then shuffling palms. And eventually, back to silence.
I didn’t think of it much then, but this really set the tone for our weekend retreat. It helped unite us in an activity, we focused for a few minutes simply on making the rain, we delighted together and let the rest of the world and all the things waiting for us at home fade away.
I don’t often just sit and listen to the rain, but I did yesterday. I sat still and paid attention as the soft water fell with a sound like many palms shuffling together. Then it moved into snaps, harder snaps, thigh tapping, and finally foot stomping. Before the storm started I could hear birds chirping, squirrels stampeding over dry leaves and pine needles, and the wind breezing through the tops of the trees. After the first drops began to fall, all I could hear was the rain.
We move through life amidst a lot of noise. The rain yesterday, and the weekend in general, was a time for me to stop and refocus and reset. Just enjoy nature and time with Nick.
This weekend was possible because we said yes to some invitations. An invitation from our friends to stay at their house. An invitation from other friends who really love hanging out with our dog and wanted us to leave her with them. An invitation from God to really rest, to enjoy nature and good food and good books; to play and swim in the sun and relax.
I’m grateful for these few days away and for all of those who made it possible. It was a true gift. I was tempted a few times to do work, but I resisted and I’m glad I did. I am home now and feel refreshed and ready for the writing and travel that is waiting for me.
It’s hard to rest, it’s hard to push back that urge to squeeze in just a little more productivity. Right before the rain storm began I was going to run downstairs and grab my computer to begin working on a blog post. If I had done that I would have missed the start of the storm and the memories and re-centering it offered. I’m glad I accepted the invitation to sit still and just listen.
Are you being invited to anything today?