One need only turn on the television or swipe a screen to hear of wars and rumors of wars, troubles far away and nearby. There’s a cyclone forming in the Philippines and a thirty-car pileup in Oregon. My seventeen-year-old son will have a long anticipated open heart surgery just two months from now, and my father in law was surprised at an appointment last Friday to find he needs similar surgery—asap. Financial difficulties continue to loom in economic markets as well as our checkbooks, relational troubles rear their heads between governments and spouses, the laundry in the little boys’ room is tumbling out over the top of the basket, and the oil hasn’t been changed in my car since October. A zillion situations scream to be made right.
So today, we went outside to play.
And found glory, without even too far a drive. Daffodils turned bright, nodding faces to the sun as the dusky hellebores kept theirs cupped toward earth. There were geese bobbing as if for apples in the stone-bordered ponds, stairs long worn tempting us to vistas yet unseen, hyacinths scenting the air so heavily it could make you dizzy. Breathing deep was the order of the day, and the space at the bottom of our lungs was better for the drawing in.
I’ve been waiting for the sun
To come blazing up out of the night like a bullet from a gun
Till every shadow is scattered, every dragon’s on the run
Oh, I believe, I believe that the light is gonna come
And this is the dark, this is the dark before the dawn
So I’m waiting for the King
To come galloping out of the clouds while the angel armies sing
He’s gonna gather His people in the shadow of His wings
And I’m gonna raise my voice with the song of the redeemed
‘Cause all this darkness is a small and passing thing
~Andrew Peterson, “The Dark Before the Dawn” (The Burning Edge of Dawn, 2015)
The daffodils remind me that the dragon’s flames won’t win the day in the end. This broken and bleeding world of ours bears the dark, but the dawn is coming.
In a broken world, the pressure to work, to strive, to fix can be overwhelming. We’re constantly reminded of all the things we could or should be doing to get ahead—or at least out of the inevitable hole. And certainly there’s a time for hard work, and we find an important element of our own personhood in cultivating our given corners of the world. The first man and woman were placed in the garden to cultivate it before sin reared its ugly head.
But Sabbath is necessity.
Sometimes—regularly, even! –the most spiritual thing we can do as parents—as humans—is to take a day off; to turn our eyes from the incessant brokenness nearby and the threat of doom from afar and hunt down the beauty that is similarly all around us, yet less insistent in its call. While ugliness screams and demands our attention, beauty often whispers its invitation. Teaching ourselves and our children to listen for and heed that quiet beckoning may be one of the most important things we ever do, because without the reminder of beauty, the heaviness of darkness can overwhelm.
“He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11
Where are the invitations to experience the beauty of God surrounding you? How can you answer—and teach your children to respond, too?