Living Artfully

Living artfully, therefore, might require something as simple as pausing.  Some people are incapable of being arrested by things because they are always on the move.  A common symptom of modern life is that there is no time for thought or even for letting impressions of a day sink in.  Yet it is only when the world enters the heart that it can be made into soul.  The vessel in which soul-making takes place is an inner container scooped out by reflection and wonder … 
a period of non-doing that is essential nourishment to the soul. 

Thomas Moore, Care of the Soul

When I think of living artfully, I think about space, value, color, texture.  At first glance, artful living is all about living in community – positive space, bold lines, warm colors, smooth textures. Relationships – iron sharpening iron. To be a good friend, though, I need quiet to develop the soul, time for reflection, wonder, for pondering the richness in life and then out of that “inner container” can living in community thrive.

So the Lord gave Israel all the land which He had sworn to give to their fathers, and they possessed it and lived in it. And the Lord gave them rest on every side, according to all that He had sworn to their fathers, and no one of all their enemies stood before them; the Lord gave all their enemies into their hand. Not one of the good promises which the Lord had made to the house of Israel failed; all came to pass.

Joshua 21:43 – 45

Rest is a result of trust in God.  Notice Joshua writes that God did the work!  “The Lord gave all their enemies into their hand!”  He created and called out a people, gave them a name, a nation, the land, and peace!  In that land they experienced “rest on every side.”  

After Israel was settled in the land, rest became synonymous with God’s resting place on Zion, in the temple, on His throne.  Israel’s rest and God’s resting place, His presence, were linked by fellowship with God which comes through trusting and obeying! Living, resting in community with the Holy God!

Jesus identifies Himself as the One who gives rest when He beckons – “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” At first glance, there is an awkward combination – rest with yoke. A yoke implies work! But as Jesus says, His yoke is easy, His yoke is to simply believe, to trust Him! We rest from our own works, and trust the completed work of our Savior! We could never look at our own work and be satisfied, nor could we ever say that it was finished. Only in Christ can we find the sweet release of striving, again, living, resting in community with the Holy God!

Surely the proud, the pleasure-seeker, and the worldly, though they have professed his name, and may have attended his gatherings of his church and other external things, have not sat at his feet, or partaken of his spirit.  It does not require a long period of self-examination to determine whether you have entered into his rest or not, and if you have not yet attained it, whether you are seeking it in the ways that he requires. That rest, if you have entered it, is rest for your soul; it is a spiritual blessing, and therefore does not necessarily depend upon external circumstances. Without this rest, you would be restless and comfortless in a palace, but if you have it, you may be happy in a dungeon.

John Newton, Sermon, Messiah’s Easy Yoke

Rest is multifaceted. It is a spiritual blessing, a result of faith, a discipline of stillness and quiet, an opportunity for reflection – it is preparation for living well in community!

The prayer of faith is a sincere, sweet, and quiet view of divine, eternal
truth. The soul rests quiet, perceiving and loving God; sweetly rejecting
all the imaginations that present themselves, calming the mind in the
Divine presence, and fixing it only on God.

~ Miguel Molinos

In this beach rest, I am learning more about and practicing reflection. One of my favorite podcasts is The Next Right Thing, where Emily P Freeman talks most about making decisions but in recent weeks has been focusing on the art and skill of reflection. Recently, she said, “If we’re paying attention, reflection can be a form of activism and not a passive one. Personal decisions we made in the past are often our best teachers, both the wise and the unwise ones. The ones that resulted in wins and losses. The good, the bad, even the indifferent, all of our past decisions have something to teach us.” This month as I focus on stillness, quiet, leaning in to listen to the Spirit, reflection … I desire to learn, to live and rest in community with a Holy God!

And coming full circle to the quote with which I began, to live more artfully, in relationship, to thrive in living in community with family, friends, and neighbors!

“How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives.
What we do with this hour and that one is what we are doing.”

Annie Dillard, The Writing Life
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