rest and reading

I came back from vacation last week rested. As I mentioned before I left, I think rest is important. I recently read how our rest should be likened to the agricultural concept of fallow (when a field uncultivated - plowed but left unseeded for a season or more). A pastor friend asks, “Do you confuse fallow time with shallow time?” He goes on to quote Len Sweet. Here’s the closing snippet:
When it looks on the surface like nothing is happening, down deep, everything is happening...

Let the soil of your life lie fallow for a season, plowed but not planted. To rest from doing allows the soil to be enriched by God, making the soul more fertile for God's next planting.
"Plowed but not planted..." I like that. These are wise words in a world where success is most often associated with concepts like productivity, results, and growth.

Personally, a great way to practice such rest is to read novels. This spring/summer I ‘plowed’ through the Harry Potter series for the first time. I loved it. The narrative of Harry and his escapades at Hogwarts and beyond captured my attention right from the get-go. It wasn’t that I love fantasy novels. I don’t. I just like good stories. And J.K. Rowling writes a good story.

And in a way, reading a good story can be like the time of rest in the quote above. I mean, practically speaking, I didn’t need to read seven books to be told that we can have hope that good triumphs over evil and that the true depths of love are of the sacrificial variety. People make such claims a lot. I could have saved myself a lot time.

But the life of hope and love isn’t just an idea captured in a sentence or a paragraph or a sermon. For the depth of these virtues to become reality in the world, they need to be deeply rooted. And such rootedness takes time. Seven Harry Potter books only scratch the surface.

And so I look forward to reading more good stories, however unproductive such a practice seems from the outside. For whether it’s reading a novel, watching a film, biking with my son, or walking along a beach with my wife - when it looks on the surface like nothing is happening, down deep, everything is happening...


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