Her name is Sarah, and she lives in Dallas, Texas. In 2012, Sarah resolved that she would commit her year to a simple word.
The word she chose would sum up her desire for the year, and her focus and goals would revolve around it. She wanted to make her best attempt at living purposefully, and so Sarah chose a word. Community
Sarah looked into her humble backyard and shaped her dream. She made a call to her father, who built her an eighteen foot long, gorgeous picnic table. She hung from the backyard trees two gorgeous spheres of branches intermingled with lights, and she got to work. Her goal was to have 500 people experience joyful community around that table.
So Sarah invited hundreds to her table last year. Wealthy. Poor. Hurting. Exuberant. Single. Married. Male. Female. No exclusions. Executives sat next to eight year olds who sat next to priests who sat next to newlyweds. Community was invited, welcomed, and celebrated around her table, and deep friendships were formed. At the beginning of her year, Sarah knew the names of three neighbors. At the end, she knew fifty.
Her 500th guest was a young girl who was given a crown and who wore it around proudly all day.
Sarah’s story resonated deeply with me. Her message is not to create community with her plan. Her message is to live purposefully.
To set goals. To carve out pillars for living. Her message is to choose your own word and invite it into your life. Invest in it. And find joy in the places that the word takes you.
After Sarah shared her story, we were asked to choose our own words. I love community. I thrive on it and I have gained so much from it. But in that moment, rest
was the word my heart chose.
When I, exhausted, walk in the door with my two toddler boys after work, I typically throw our bags down, cook dinner, change diapers, discipline some, eat dinner, laugh some, pick up, possibly have a living room family dance party, build forts, discipline some more, read children’s books, mentally freak out because the house is still a wreck, pay bills, and the list goes on. Rest is not exactly in my repertoire of things to do.
Sadly, a romantic evening for my husband and I currently consists of my watching a movie with him while returning e-mails; washing, drying, and folding laundry; and organizing closets. Weekends have become a parking lot of errands, doctor’s appointments, laundry, and putting out fires.
I always feel that rest is an elusive mirage just beyond my reach. And yet, in all of its forms, I long for it to fill my thoughts and time this year.
I long for a long weekend of rest with my husband. For pajama Saturdays where I watch movies all day with my toddlers. And more than anything, I long for rest in each chaotic moment. To live and be present and feel at rest in the rush. What is your word?
Discipline, humor, health? In what ways do you or will you live it?
Whitney Hale serves as a reader for Ruminate from 2007-20010. She received her BA in English from Liberty University and is currently working for the fundraising arm of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. She writes in her free time for a few organizations and is a strong believer in the reconciliation of people from all places, races, and backgrounds. She is still madly in love with her high school sweetheart whom she married at the ripe old age of 19 and they have two toddler boys who are 19 months apart.
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Last week at work, I expected our departmental gathering to begin with a “state of the department” address. But instead, one of my colleagues was asked to tell us her story.