If I Just Lay Here…

06 Mar

When we don’t observe the Sabbath, we act like gods. – Eugene Peterson

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?

Forget what we’re told
Before we get too old
Show me a garden that’s bursting into life. – Snow Patrol

A friend sent me the song. It goes back to 2006 and I never recall hearing it before – or hearing of the band before, for that matter.

But it’s been my song since I heard it.

Worship song.

Sabbath song.

The reality is I’ve been “just laying here” for several months now. Literally. I see sometimes feverish activity going on about me. People rushing here, going there. Events, appointments, tasks. And it’s as if I’m laying across the line of traffic, laying on the sidewalk as people step over me on their way. This isn’t a reflection of perceived indifference. Rather it’s a wonderful, dreadful feeling of set-asideness.

How deeply ingrained within us is the desire to make a difference, to do something worthwhile or to be in the thick of something perceived to be worthwhile. How defined we are by all that we do and build and orchestrate and launch and tweak and tear down and build again.

It’s no doubt why sabbath is such a foreign language to us.

My friend and mentor David Roper, who first introduced me to His unforced rhythms of grace, sent out this “e-musing” of his yesterday. Reads like another line of the song:

I don’t know that I ever aspired to greatness, but these days, thank goodness, I can be a little fellow in the wide, wide world, and stay close to home. I can love those nearby and leave the salvation of the world to those who are younger, stronger, brighter and better at it than I.

I’ve wondered at times if I’ve gotten slothful; I rather think I’ve just gotten old.

An aging friend wrote to me the other day bewailing her loss of opportunity. Publishers no longer clamor for her manuscripts; churches no longer call on her to speak. She’s trying to adjust, she said, to a snail-like pace of life.

“Thank goodness,” I wrote in reply. “More time now to love and to pray; more time for reading and contemplation; more time to develop intimacy with Jesus and with our other friends; more time to enjoy our Lord’s presence in creation; more time for ordinary duties; more time for common things.”

And then Merton chimes in with his own stanza of this unfolding sabbath song…

I have been reading about de Rancé, that old Trappist business of trying to starve and beat your way to sanctity and of assuming that your own efforts and energy are practically everything – beating your head against a brick wall at the end of a dead end in order to fulfill some particular negative ideal. Our Cistercian Fathers and St. Benedict knew better. So did the Little Flower. So did our Lord.

I don’t know any universal solution to the problem of why monks go crazy, except yesterday it was such a beautiful day, and I walked under trees and looked at the sunny hills, and listened to the quiet sunlight, and kicked the gravel with my feet and said, “What is there to go crazy about?” We have a wonderful vocation. Christ has brought us here to live: to live and breathe and be happy under His gaze, to play in His sight like children, while He takes care of us – to sing and fast and pray and (for me) to write books and to love all the time. It’s not an effort; there is nothing to get excited about. Sure, I’m distracted, I am vain, I am full of dumb books, and I get into interior arguments about the chant, so what? He knows I don’t want to get into all that stuff, and He loves me.

I am happy that I can at least want to love God. Perhaps that is all I’ve got, but it is already all that essential. And He will take care of the rest.

The timing of songs, of readings, of writings from friends can be exquisite.

He doesn’t step over me.

All that I am
All that I ever was
Is here in your perfect eyes, they’re all I can see

I don’t know where
Confused about how as well
Just know that these things will never change for us at all

If I lay here
If I just lay here
Would you lie with me and just forget the world?


Posted by on March 6, 2012 in musings


Tags: , , ,

4 responses to “If I Just Lay Here…

  1. Marla Wheeler

    March 10, 2012 at 3:12 pm

    Mike, Jamie told me I should read your blog. She knows you’ve always had a special place in my heart. Both ‘If I Lay Here’ and ‘Three Bottles’ have touched me deeply. I could feel your agony as you had to drink from the three bottles; and then I could feel the celebration as you realized you were being asked to drink from The Cup. When one loves Jesus as much as you do, and trusts his character, being asked to drink from The Cup becomes a celebration of life. I’m praying for you, knowing that accepting The Cup is not usually a one-time act, but a daily one. Sometimes, maybe hourly. Thank you for sharing your story. It gives me strength for my own journey. Right now, my path feels pretty smooth and there’s not much to trip over. But I’ll put your stories in my pocket (so to speak) to pull out like Elvish waybread when needed.

  2. wordhaver

    March 10, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Thank you so much, Marla. You are right on. Daily, hourly. Your face has been one of those tucked away in my heart as well. It causes me great joy that what I have said could somehow be Elvish bread for you and other travelers in the wide, wide world. Blessings to you! :o)

  3. Kathy

    March 28, 2012 at 3:55 am

    Pastor Mike! As you can see I am doing a little catch-up on my reading. You amaze me. You engage me, and you help me find space! You have touched my life with you musings, as you call them. Real, raw, unashamed. I see grace, fractals of Light, and even playful, prayerful God winks! I thank God for you! Be well!

  4. wordhaver

    March 28, 2012 at 3:50 pm

    Thank you, Kathy! :o)


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