Tiny footsteps patter on the stairs, accompanied by baby hands on the step above to steady him as he climbs. He isn’t quite big enough to maneuver the incline on his own, but he is on his way upstairs to see his Grammie. I hear him coming and my heart fills with delight. “Do I hear a Jamey? Where are you, baby?” I say, loud enough to let him know I know he’s coming. As he reaches the top, those tiny baby feet begin to run and they don’t stop until he’s thrust himself with the full weight of his two-year-old body into my arms for a morning or an evening hug.
Two nights ago, after building Duplo trains as high as the sky, my little love crawled up into my lap and I could tell this tiny whirlwind of endless energy was looking for some cuddles. I asked him if he wanted to be held like a baby. Without nodding, he laid back and let me cradle him for just a moment before flipping over onto his tummy, curling his tiny body into a ball, and falling fast asleep, his head nestled gently under my chin, baby breaths pulsing in and out upon my chest, wispy evidence that he was now completely at rest. Relishing this moment with this tiny bundle now so inert on my lap, I remembered. I remembered another tiny baby, his red-headed daddy, my baby, falling fast asleep in my arms in much the same way almost thirty years ago, and I rejoiced in the beauty and the joy of this moment, this gift, in the midst of what had been a crazy, busy Christmas season. And just as this little one had found a place to rest on my ample Grammie lap, the things I was remembering in this moment brought peace and contentment and I entered silently into a similar rest of the soul.
Re-membering. It plays a part in every resting moment. In remembering, we re-member that which has been torn apart. And the God who loves us, uses our re-membering to heal us and to make us whole.
We don’t often go out to the movies, but there were two movies this Christmas season that we knew we couldn’t do without. One was the newest in the Star Wars saga. The other was Little Women. I have always identified with Jo: strong-hearted, hard-headed, and someone who loved to write. My identification with her was intensified when I grew up and married an intelligent German, gave birth to my own small passel of boys, and taught them at home before and after we helped start two small classical Christian schools. Education was our business, just as it was Jo’s. I couldn’t help thinking as I watched the movie that memory was playing a central role in Greta Gerwig’s adaptation, and my thoughts were confirmed when a few days following, I read the closing lines in Karen Swallow Prior’s review on The Gospel Coalition website, “The way we move forward depends on whether (and how) we remember the past. Remembering is a kind of re-reading.” She goes on to talk about the Biblical emphasis on remembering and how it is related to our identity as Christians. As I read, I thought about how my own remembering while that tiny baby body was curled sleeping in my lap brought rest to my soul, how it allowed me to know who I was, a mom and a grandma thoroughly in love with the gifts of motherhood and the joys brought about by being this little man’s Grammie.
The second movie we saw in theaters this Christmas was Star Wars. In The Rise of Skywalker, Ben or Kylo Ren has been a major force for the dark side and there is no reason to think that he will ever change, that is, unless he is confronted with a force stronger than his desire to rule the world. In the midst of a battle with Rey that has left him depleted of energy, his father appears to talk to him. “But you are just a memory,” says Kylo Ren. “Yes,” replies Hans Solo, “but I am your memory.” One can almost see the anger and the lust for power drain out of Kylo Ren in this moment, and he becomes Ben once again, in his right mind, his soul finally at rest. The viewer senses that something monumental has just taken place. Remembering has transformed him. He now knows who and whose he is, and we soon learn that this knowledge will change everything as he moves forward in his story.
It is no secret that of all the Ten Commandments, there is only one that begins with remembering. In the ESV version, it reads like this, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” Remember. I am currently reading a book by A. J. Swoboda titled Subversive Sabbath. In the opening chapter, Mr. Swoboda makes the point that the first day of Adam and Eve’s life was time God had set apart to rest. Before they worked the garden, they rested in it with Him. They enjoyed Him and his company. Before they did, they were. And even though the Biblical text doesn’t reveal any more, it is safe to say that in resting, they learned who they were in relation to their Creator better than they ever could have learned by working and doing. The working and the doing would come later; the resting came first.
We are Anglicans, new Anglicans in fact. Every Sunday at the beginning of our service, we kneel and pray. Our rector has given us three ancient prayers to choose from as we begin our time of worship, and for every one of the past three years of Sundays, my heart has been drawn to this one,
“O God of peace, who has taught us that in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and confidence shall be our strength: by the might of your Spirit lift us, we pray you, to your presence, where we may be still and know that you are God, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”[BCP]
Every time I recite this prayer, my heart is drawn to the opening phrase, “in returning and rest we shall be saved.” I know that this prayer is not talking about my eternal salvation; that was accomplished for me long ago on the Cross by Christ himself. But there is a type of saving that takes place when I place myself where Christ can cradle me and heal me, cuddled as close to Him and His presence as that tiny grandbaby of mine was to me at the end of his long and exhausting day. Stillness in God’s presence helps me to remember, reminding me who He is and who I am in relation to Him. Crawling into his lap is where I am at rest.
The featured image, titled “Lancia’s Colorado Glory Sky 1”, is (c) Lancia E. Smith and used with her glad permission for Cultivating and The Cultivating Project.
Jen is a sixty-something mother to three grown sons, wife to one wonderfully faithful man, and her heart is consistently filled with wonder and delight at all things true, good, and beautiful. Tucked away in her own little house on the prairie, she enjoys reading, writing, and playing on the floor with her two-year-old grand baby and his vast collection of colorful choo-choo trains. As the founder of The Classical Christian Schooling Network and Digest, her roots run deep in the classical Christian schooling world. In her spare time, she enjoys drinking tea and cultivating friendships with fairy tale creatures.
Thank you, Jen for introducing me to this site and your images of rest.
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