“In the midst of creation, there is so much to do…Wake up…be careful you don’t become so consumed in your work that you don’t create some time and you don’t rest and you lose something and you find yourself back in another sort of Egypt. Don’t become a machine that is so caught up in doing that you miss the joy, the wonder, and the awe of being a human in whole world God has made….
And may you slow down so you don’t miss a thing.”
To celebrate 13 years of marriage, Heather and I needed to step away. Despite a home remodel going on, a busy church to lead, an upcoming fishing season that is bearing down upon us, and 3 wonderful kids and 1 pregnancy to focus on, we needed to get away.
We had 2 airfare credits that needed to be used by this summer so the trip felt like a waste if we didn’t get away. And so we went. And though I would have selected a beach somewhere very warm (or a golf course), Heather had always dreamed of visiting and staying on Cape Cod. So Friday we flew to Boston, rented a Hyundai, and drove out to Chatham, Mass and spent a weekend walking the beach, eating seafood, exploring the small towns of the Cape, and mostly, filling up our emotional bank accounts. This last season of life has been busy and as all busy times do, it was draining our emotional bank account. We were doing fine…but definitely starting to gasp for more air and so we needed days to talk, to dream together, to laugh together, to share many good meals, and to reconnect. Heather wrote about our time here and as always, she proves that she is the real writer in the family.
But as I sit and write on our cross continental flight back to life in Seattle, I’m mindful of the power of retreat. When we retreat, we can restore. We can rejuvenate. We can be renewed…we can be made new again. This is powerful as individuals but also powerful as couples…we need time to remind each other of all that our marriages are built on. With businesses and ministries and kids and obligations…sometimes our marriages end up getting the short end of the stick. We give to everything and everyone else and sometimes unintentionally, our marriages get the cold shoulder of our emotional life. And so our marriages end up drawing on the old resources and the old stories and we can slowly forget about the amazing person we share our lives with. This weekend was about remembering…and reminding each other…and just dwelling in the wonderful mystery of a sacred love.
After 13 years of marriage, and over 15 years of being together, I am reminded that I am the luckiest man in the world. And that our marriage is greater now than it was in those early years of bliss. It is better because we have the strength of experience on our side. We’ve been through hard stuff and because of this, we are stronger.
I’m also reminded that as humans, we need times to restore and be re-created. I stumbled upon the Rob Bell quote above near the end of his “Everything is Spiritual” lecture. We can become so consumed with the CREATION of our world and our lives and our stuff that we can forget to rest. Bell reminds his listener that God commands that we rest, it is embedded in the creation narrative in Genesis 1. Even God, in the midst of creation, rested. And in the midst of His creation, God modeled a divine rhythm…”and it was evening and it was morning, on the second day.” You can read the rhythm here, but Bell’s point is that as humans we’re always being moved from darkness to light, from mis-understanding to understanding, growing and moving and creating….but we need to rest.
For 4 days, I had a chance to rest and be renewed. And in the midst of stepping away from my children, my church, my business, my busy life…I realized again I can return a better father, a better pastor, a better business owner, a better “creator” of a rich life. Days spent exploring the beach, reading and journaling, eating and drinking great food, now I return back to the fullness of life, re-invigorated to make a difference in the world. The power of stepping away is that when we return, we are better prepared to do good things. We must slow down…so that we don’t miss a thing.
It seems ironic at times…but to be fully present- we need moments of being away. This long weekend was a deep breath, a pause, a refresher of marriage and everything else, so that we return ready to live deeply.