At Rest

This past month has been more than a little unusual for me. It is not just the surgery – I have experienced surgery and have felt pain and navigated crutches before. And it is not just the time away – I have had breaks of similar length over the years. Instead, it is the pace at which I have been experiencing life for these past few weeks. I don’t know that I have ever had to work so hard to do so little. Day after day have been spent on a sofa, my world limited to just our main floor. My major outings have consisted of travelling as far as from my back door to the car door, and all the while with Ang and the kids opening doors, carrying things, and treating me generally like I am made of glass. It has been more than a little unusual. And it has taken more than a little to get used to it if there ever is any getting used to it all.

I don’t know about you, but rest doesn’t seem to come that easily for me. It is not that I don’t like it or want it or don’t take it when I can get it. But it is hard to slow down. It is hard to work against inertia and not just keep on going or squeezing in “one more thing.” And it is hard to feel like it is okay to come to a complete stop. It feels like rest is something we are supposed to earn. After all, shouldn’t a good night’s sleep be the reward for a good day’s labour? And there are the nagging fears that if you stop completely, will you ever be able to get going again? And there is that uncomfortable sense of indebtedness. Here I am on the receiving end of so many other people’s care and hard work as they pick up the pieces I have dropped whether figuratively or quite literally. It happens again and again without the sense of being able to pay them back in that moment in the usual ways.

It has been a humbling kind of month. It has been humbling to recognize my limitations physically. It has been humbling to recognize the limitations of my own importance within the world, our community, and even my family. After all, the world has kept spinning as has our community and my family with it. And it has been humbling to be on the receiving end of so many little gifts from friends and family members whether it was a friend dropping off a meal or a family member picking up something that I dropped or, in a strange reversal of roles, turning off a light. And yet that is the nature of a gift. Gifts are things that are given not earned or demanded. To be on the receiving end where all you are able to do is open your hands to receive the gift and open your mouth to say, “Thank you,” is simply humbling. So it has been a humbling kind of month.

And for all of it challenges, it has been a refilling kind of month as well. The one thing that I have had over this past month, which I haven’t had for a long time, has been time. Time to read. Time to be quiet. Time to pray. Time to look back and to look ahead beyond that next meeting or appointment. Time to let my soul catch up to what my body and schedule are demanding. Time to remember the audience of One that we are ultimately playing to and listening for. And for this I am grateful as it brings rest in the midst of so much inactivity.

Thank you to everyone who has extended care to me and my family over the past month. Thank you also to those who have picked up the extra pieces and cared for our congregational family in this time and made this time of recuperating possible.

I look forward to seeing you again soon,

Joe Welty

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