Charlotte lays her head on my shoulder. Both of us are snuggled together under a white blanket with the sun streaming in through the window. Light dances across the pages of our books. “Read books now,” Isaac chimes in as he lifts his legs up, one at a time, onto the couch and cuddles into my other arm.
“What should we read first?” I ask without a shortage of books piled in front of us.
“This one first!” Isaac picks up his newest truck book and throws it in my lap.
I love these moments on the couch with my children reading books. Feeling their warmth and watching their enthusiasm for words and stories. Tucked into the pages of Cars and Trucks and Things That Go and anything princess or Paw Patrol, and in the delighted eyes of my children, I find rest.
The cool cement of our front porch brings a welcome relief while the sun pours down during the height of the afternoon. The dog sits to my side, panting slightly, and a large plastic bucket lays at my feet. One by one I pull a fresh, market corn on the cob out and begin the task of husking. Insects of all sizes strum their music to keep me company almost in time with the pulling and ripping of each husk from the corn. The closed front door keeps any commotion from the children inside allowing for one deep breath after another. I place the husked corn in a pile and watch a worm retreat to safety. A car passes and a horn beeps, children ride their bikes to the park, and I sit and husk corn finding rest.
Taking his thumb out of his mouth to speak, Isaac tells me, “Ready, bed now.” He sits in the crook of my arm with his back leaning into my chest. I watch his feet rub against each other while his fingers play with his belly button. I keep rocking and holding him. With closed curtains and the lights off, the room is dark except for the light from the hallway coming from under the door. It’s just my son and I for these few moments before bed. We rock and sing, we sit and pray. Leaning into one another, I find rest.
I quietly close Isaac’s door while sneaking one last look at his body, head on pillow and thumb in his mouth. The dog and I walk down the hallway and out the front door. The sun, still hot, but quickly setting, leaves a pink tint across the horizon. I test the water coming from the sprayer – still hot from the sun’s warmth – and wait until it cools. I then begin to water the garden and let my mind wander. A host of weeds have cropped up so that in many places I can’t see the soil anymore, but I know the vegetable plants are growing. I see red tomatoes and large zucchinis surrounded by red, orange, and yellow marigolds. A few sunflowers loom overhead and I spot a bumble bee searching for nectar. Pouring out of the hose, water fills the garden and in the growing garden, I find rest.
The news reports say it’s the hottest few days all summer, but under the shade of our large oak trees, I feel the cool breeze and sit comfortably with friends. I don’t think about the temperature but rather the warmth felt in being present to the people in front of me. I hear the children’s laughter and cheers from the park, throwing balls, and chasing each other up and down the slide. We feast on shrimp, corn, and all manner of tasty side dishes. Leaving my phone inside I focus solely on the voices and joy around me. The sun begins to set while the kids keep coming back for drink refills and bites of food, their wet hair and sweaty bodies a picture of this summer evening. In the comfort of my camp chair with a full plate of food, surrounded by friends, stories, and laughter, I find rest.
These are my moments of rest, a pause here and a gentle breeze there, a taste of cold water on a hot day and the voices of my children; gathering with friends and family, savoring books and shared stories, turning towards the light of the sun, and finding peace.
This post originally appeared on the author’s blog.
Kimberly Knowle-Zeller is an ordained ELCA pastor, mother of two, and spouse of an ELCA pastor. She lives with her family in Cole Camp, MO. You can read more at her website. Or follow her work on Facebook.