“Sittin’ around is hard work.”

Levi Nelson, who worked for much of his life in Hamilton as a logger, has been legally blind and unable to get around for several years now. He is the husband of Mamie who, for 13 years, delivered the local newspaper in the area that included my driveway. In describing the sedentary life that has been forced on him by his failing health, a life that renders him homebound most of the time, Levi once lamented to me that “sittin’ around is hard work.” …
For the past few months, starting during summertime of last year, I’ve tried to honor some notion of Sabbath, partly in response to several books I read, partly because of what the Bible says about observing a day of rest, partly because I just know in my bones that it’s right. On many Sundays, though not as many as you might guess, I’m out of town on work; but when I’m home I try to resist the pull to be ‘productive’ or active. At least since June, the day means gathering with the saints in the morning, returning to the house, perhaps sharing a meal with family or friends, and then staying nearby for the rest of the day. I might take a walk around the farm but, even then, try not to wander too far, knowing that if I do, I’ll find some task that needs being done, done right now. I usually write letters, read something worthwhile, visit with comers-by, doze in the hammock or on the couch. I don’t have a television, haven’t for sometime now, and don’t have to fight the temptation to leave it turned off (a temptation that I found difficult to resist when I had one) so there’s a lot of silence. Which took a lot of getting used to.
I look forward to Sundays now.
At first, my Sabbath routine was a challenge for the same reason that Levi Nelson finds it difficult to be old and disabled. “Sittin’ round is hard work.” … Even now from time to time, the get-it-done, be-productive, rest-resistant part of me found stillness uncomfortable and somehow ill-advised, despite the clear admonition of scripture and the implied lessons that creation teaches concerning rejuvenation. I’ve learned to handle silence fairly well – it’s a by product of writing – but stillness has been difficult.
On some Sundays, it is much easier than others. Take today for example: it was a rainy day and a good one for being inside. With logs on the fire, dog on the couch, coffee in the cup, letters written (one to a friend in jail, several to folks who did me kindnesses this past week, another to a writer whose work I’ve come to admire), I turned on a newly acquired CD of hymns by fellow singer-songwriter Chris Rice and read, for the second time, Treasured by Leigh McLeroy, a collection which “considers tangible reminders of God’s active presence” in our day to day lives. I highly recommend both the CD (“Peace Like a River” ) and the book. They complement one another beautifully, make for good company on a rainy afternoon, and render sittin’ around feel like something other than hard work.
It’s been a restful day, well timed to prepare me for a couple of upcoming weeks away. It’s can be work, sittin’ around, but the pay, something other than dollars and cents, is generous.