Welcome to October! Crisp mornings, fall colors, a sense of fresh beginnings as school routines normalize and we lean forward into our lives.
Here in the Northwest we know the rains are coming and so we live our lives outdoors as long as we can. That last bike ride, a walk in the woods, dinner on the deck. Surrounded by beauty, we dive in before the mists and mud make our treks cumbersome.
And we buy books. Lots of books. The citizens of Portland are readers. We brew our coffee strong and are more prone to meet friends at Powell’s than the mall. In the dark days ahead I’ll light cinnamon candles and look forward to reading my way through blustery storms in my corner of the world.
One book in particular.
My son, John Mark, has written a book that may well change the way a generation views the purpose of their lives. It's intriguing title is: Garden City: Work, Rest, and the Art of Being Human.
And though his words are directed at millennials emerging into the early stages of their work lives, I believe the truths he writes just might change the way my generation sees the purpose of the later stages of their own professional lives as well..
Let me explain.
This book is about being human in real time. In that easy way he has, John Mark manages to bring the theology of work and rest out of the ivory tower of academia, right smack into our conversations over coffee.
He gives us room to dream, to imagine, to dare and risk and be the thriving humans God designed us to be.
And he refutes the widely held idea that, for Christians, who we are is more important than what we do. Instead, he paints a picture of a fully integrated life. A life where we get to choose. A life that finds satisfying meaning, not in living the American dream of more and bigger and better, but in choosing to become who and what God invites us to be.
And then he writes about rest. About Sabbath.
When John Mark first began sharing what he was learning about Sabbath with me, and then later when he developed the teachings that became the basis for this book, I listened like a woman whose canteen had run out of water while crossing the desert. I’d been pushing myself to work harder, to accomplish more, to wear every hat I’d been assigned.
And I was staggering under the impossibility of the load.
I couldn’t get these truths out of my mind. I couldn’t shake the sense that I was failing at everything, like one of those circus performers who spins so many plates that he’s running back and forth frantically to keep them from falling to the ground and shattering.
When I read his words I gave myself permission to quit.
I quit a job I loved, but that had outgrown my time constraints and my abilities. Was that little extra in my wallet worth it? Could I make do without?
I quit saying yes to needs I was not best equipped to meet. Instead I began to see myself as a connector. I hear a plea or help and connect that woman to one whose story is similar or whose strengths are just what she needs.
I quit going to every church gathering, every event, everything I was “supposed” to do. Instead I left room for myself to linger, to think and ponder and be alone enough to fill my introverted cup.
And I gave myself room to dream with God, to throw myself into what I love.
And Phil and I changed the course of our future. Our son’s words got us to talking and Phil quit too. He resigned a position he loved but that was choking the life out of him in order to start Intentional Parents, something we had talked about forever but would not have had the courage to dive into without these truths.
So I’m warning you. This book will give you permission to dream, to throw yourself into your God-assigned work, and to purposefully hit the pause button in order to give God one full non-achieving, non-striving, non-conflict day every week.
Read this book and you just might get messed up in your head. You might have to downsize your budget. You’ll probably make some changes. You might even quit.
And somehow I think God will be smiling, cheering you on as you dare to drink deep, to have courage, to know the hope of His calling… for you.
From a heart so proud of my son and so hopeful for you,
P.S. What is it you dare to dream about doing? My dream was to write, to overflow all that I have heard and learned to women. I so want to hear yours so I can cheer you on and pray.
P.S.S And if you do buy the book, and it does set you free to do and be what you hear God whispering in your soul, would you consider leaving an online review? For some reason I do not understand, those reviews mean something to publishers and booksellers. And they wouldn’t accept mine—can you imagine?! I guess they think I might be just a little bit biased…