America #2 (The Murder of Rest)


All good things must come to an end, and so, I murdered rest. You read that right. Read it again. And for the sake of clarity, at the expense of redundancy, let me put it another way: I strung up sabbath, fastened a few millstones to its feet (the neck seemed overly-dramatic), and pitched it into the sea.


This is hyperbole. No, maybe it's not.


It's the perfect crime if you consider: the murder of constructed concept produces no body, at least, not straight-away. There is a body in the end-- your own to be exact-- but a man's gotta go somehow, whether by the cigarettes, the black-lunged cancer, or the over-striving of the green soul.

Come to think of it, cigarettes might just be the product of over-striving. Who knows. I don't.


Anyhow, the death of a middle-class over-striver goes barely noticed by investigators. They don't come knocking with warrants and inquisition, but send the youthful eulogizers who say things like, "he was such a hard-working man," or "he had a real protestant work ethic." They mourn the loss of the salt of the earth, ascribe virtue to accomplishment, to the ability to take time and turn it into loaves and fishes.


Is this hyperbole? I don't know. Maybe it's not.


As a child, rest was second-nature, maybe even first nature. There were twelve hours of stillness in any given Tuesday. I slept, sure, but even waking watched the frogs blinking milky filmed eye-lids from just above the surface of an Ozark mud puddle.

I watched and watched.

I closed my eyes, breeze against blush, and gape-mouthed, gulped the wind on which scissor-tailed flycatchers rode. I sat in the hammock of mother's apron, head against beating heart as the thunderstorm lumbered quaking across the Texas plains.

At one point or another, I slept in all these places-- on the river bank by the mud-puddle, in the gentle winds of a Texas field, in my mother's apron hammock.


It was with great deliberation and malice afore-thought, then, that I murdered rest. You ask the murderous motive, and this is not the proper question.

Haven't we always wanted to be limitless man, greater than even God who rested on the seventh day? Haven't we believed that we could shine somehow brighter than even the morning star?

Yes, questions of motive are obvious. It is the question of resurrection that takes greater imagination.

*Photo by Flick, Creative Commons via Flickr.

On Sabbath as Rest, Resistance, and Recovery

This month, at the behest of Kelley Nikondeha, I've been reading Walter Brueggemann's book, Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now. It's been a grand read, a short one beneficial for all those inundated by the anxieties of our fast-paced society. Today, I'm sharing a few reflections from Brueggemann's book.


“YHWH governs as an alternative to Pharaoh, there the restfulness of YHWH effectively counters the restless anxiety of Pharaoh.”*

In the Spring of 2012, I found myself consumed by metrics. Our youngest son, Titus, had not been gaining weight, and our local doctors began requiring weekly weigh-ins. We were asked to log his food consumption, and began tabulating his caloric intake with near neurotic precision.

After months of struggling to pack on a few pounds, Titus began losing weight, and we landed in Arkansas Children’s Hospital where a team of doctors determined that he was “acutely malnourished,” and diagnosed him with “failure to thrive.” He was a slight child, caving in on himself.

In this season of struggle, the pressures of work were unrelenting. I practice law by day, and though my colleagues were generous (more than generous, in fact), the time away from the office began to take a toll on my practice. My metrics were slipping; I was, in an economic sense, experiencing my own failure to thrive.

There was no rest for the weary, and my life became sort of anxious cycle—from the frying pan of the office to the fire of family distress, and back again the next day. All the while, the metrics kept slipping, and slipping, and slipping: less weight gain than expected; fewer dollars collected; less new business.

I created pharaohs from whole cloth, watched them lord over me with whips. “More bricks!” they shouted. “More weight gain; more business!” And under the weight of these anxieties, I gave up and reached for the bottle.

Continue reading at Kelley Nikondeha's site. (Really... go there... continue...)


*Quote taken from Sabbath as Resistance: Saying No to the Culture of Now,  by Walter Brueggemann.