The word “makes” in the verse, “He makes me lie down in green pastures” always grabs my attention. God doesn’t invite us, or request our presence to rest in tranquil green pastures, but rather, God sometimes makes us — even forces us to take a rest every now and then, whether we like it or not.
The category 1 Hurricane Nate was no big deal to our family since my husband and I both grew up along the coast and are old hands at hurricanes. We carefully tracked the projected path and decided this hurricane wasn’t going to be more than a feisty rain storm in our area, but also knowing hurricanes can be schizophrenic, we prepared responsibly and kept an eye on things.
All of our activities were cancelled. Meetings, dinners, and other weekend get-togethers were scrubbed from our calendar. It felt strange to have our teenager home on a Saturday night. Even church on Sunday was cancelled, which in Alabama is a sure sign of trouble. Suddenly, we were being made to lie down in green pastures. What would we do with all this newfound free time? I instinctively made plans to tackle a list of chores including painting the powder room, and installing shelves in my laundry room. Since it’s also my job to keep everyone else in the house busy, I made a list for them as well.
We monitored social media with some amusement as those fresh off the moving trucks from North Alabama and points beyond, put metal storm shutters on their windows and began to cook for an army. There are thousands of new residents in Baldwin County that haven’t experienced a hurricane and were frantically buying all the bread and milk in town. We yawned and left the rocking chairs on the front porch. The main precaution I took was to move the fall pumpkin inside. I also filled the bathtub with water to use in the toilets just in case the city’s water supply was somehow cut off, because I have a steadfast rule that everyone must always flush, storm or no storm.
Growing weary of the laundry room project, I sat in front of the TV and watched football and weather reports. Then, I read a few things and piddled around the kitchen making sandwiches. It was a day the Italians refer to as, “dolce far niente,” or, “the sweetness of doing nothing,” which Americans, or at least I, seem to have trouble grasping.
There was so much I could have — and should have done, but it felt good to have an excuse to sit and stare at the windy day. Bending trees, twirling leaves and fat drops of rain exploding when they smashed on the ground were mesmerizing. By sitting still, I discovered a storm that somehow soothed and relaxed. Indeed, the shepherd knows when his sheep are weary and need to rest and refresh their souls.
If it’s not a hurricane that makes us lie in green pastures, it can be a fever or a twisted ankle or something else that forces us to take time off. God doesn’t send the storms or head colds — those are the result of living in our very human world. But when we are touched with the sniffles and have to snuggle on the sofa with a cozy blanket, Katherine Hepburn movie, hot cup of tea and a trusty beagle, there’s a small part of us that feels glad. Being forced to step out of our hectic schedules with a valid excuse can be secretly rejuvenating and bring new energy to keep going on the days our calendars are loaded.
God slips moments of relaxation upon us every now and then, and it always serves as a reminder that we need to take care of ourselves, lie down in green pastures and not get so busy we miss the beauty and peace within the storm.
This story first appeared on AL.com and in the Mobile Press-Register, Birmingham News and Huntsville Times.