A few weeks ago, a friend appeared at our door unexpectedly. Bob is one of our favorite neighbors and I was pleased to see him. When I looked past his smile and saw the book in his hand, I guessed the reason for this visit. Bob’s first comment confirmed my suspicions. “Well, here it is, my second book!” My fellow author tried his best to be low-key, but failed miserably in his effort to hide his absolute joy. He didn’t have to do so on my account because my emotions mirrored his. I couldn’t have been more excited! The copy Bob shared with me was his very first uncorrected edition. This made no difference to me. I caressed the book almost as lovingly as I would a new grandchild. I’d read Bob’s first book and I headed back to my computer to order a copy of his second effort as soon as he left. On the way up the stairs, I couldn’t help smiling as I recalled my elation when the UPS driver dropped off the proof copy of my first book. For someone who enjoys writing, there is nothing better! My smile remained as I searched Amazon for my friend’s book and ordered my copy.
After placing the order, I ignored the new email and returned to my own writing. I’ve struggled over the past several weeks, not because the inspiration hasn’t come, but because so much of it has been required in a short period of time. My dear husband and I have certainly had a full calendar as of late. Add to this many unexpected demands on our time and two early deadlines imposed by my parish bulletin’s publisher and you get the picture. Though this was pressure enough, I added my own measure to the mix. My author-friend had completed two manuscripts and published both within the past year and a half. I wondered why my own 90-page effort hasn’t yet evolved into a publishable state. As you know, I post these reflections every day. I enjoy composing them because they focus my thinking toward the positive each day. Though I often crank out my parish bulletin reflections in a single afternoon, some editions evolve into a two or three-day project. It just depends. On what? I simply don’t know. Still, I enjoy the writing.
After having written all of that, I retreated to the swing on our porch. Since childhood, I’ve found great consolation on swings. As a little girl, when I needed a few minutes of comfort or peace, I retreated to our backyard swing-set. Though we didn’t have much when it came to material things, that battered structure of aged piping, bolts, chains and wooden seats was indeed precious. It brought me closer to heaven than any child could ever hope to be. There was something mystical about swaying back and forth under the vast sky. Whether I saw streaming rays of sunshine, billowing cumulus clouds or dusk’s slowly emerging stars, something from above always assured me that God was watching and that all would be well in the end. Though the problem at hand almost always remained intact when I returned to our second-floor flat, my ability to deal with it had grown exponentially. Now, in spite of the fact that there was still plenty to write to complete this reflection, I allowed myself a return trip to that backyard of old. Though the roof above blocked my view of the sky, the fruits of my husband’s gardening caught my eye from every direction. When a gentle breeze embraced me as I swayed back-and-forth on the swing, I found that decades-old heavenly place where comfort and peace flow freely.
I enjoyed that taste of heaven for fifteen minutes. Though my 90 pages remain untouched, my interlude on the porch provided just enough time to recapture my belief that I’ll finish my book at just the right time. Before returning to this writing, I reread today’s scripture passages with new eyes. It was in Matthew’s gospel (11:25-30) that I found one of Jesus’ most important promises, the same promise which has been kept faithfully to me all of my life: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest.” Jesus’ words echo God’s often repeated invitation to trust and to rest in the most comforting and peace-filled company we’ll ever know.
It seems to me that it’s up to us to accept God’s invitation just as I did so often as a child and as I did today. Whether we fret about ourselves or about those we’ve been given to love, we’re invited to hand our worries over to God. Simply knowing that someone else understands opens our hearts to the peace that only God’s embrace can bring. I’ve rested in this place often during the difficult moments of my life. Perhaps this is the reason I continue to plug away at my writing. Just as my author-friend can’t help cranking out his novels, I can’t help sharing this good news.
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