Last fall I purchased a Sony Digital Book Reader. I’d been considering Amazon’s Kindle for some time and eyeing the then yet-to-be released Barnes & Noble Nook. I settled on Sony’s because of the price and the size and weight. It’s about as thin as my phone and smaller than a paperback book.
I absolutely love it. Instead of a backpack full of the books I’m reading at any given time, I have them all in my back pocket. (I just have to remember to remove it before sitting.) The books are usually cheaper than paper editions, and I can also borrow from the Dayton Public Library system.
I’ve been reading a novel by Anne Lamott called Crooked Little Heart, which apparently had some technical difficulties in the eBook formatting because all the periods are missing. You don’t realize how important periods are until they’re gone. It’s quite difficult to know when a sentence ends and another begins. One thought flows into another without pause. Capitalization helps but can also be misleading when it involves a proper noun.
I’d considered not reading it, but the story and characters are too good to abandon. Lamott developed an eerie character who I’ve gathered may not be an actual person at all but the embodiment of the fear of change and aging. I’m two-thirds the way through what has seemed to be 240 pages of one long run-on sentence.
This got me thinking how we often live our lives without periods. Commas maybe. Semicolons perhaps—whatever those are used for. Colons, em dashes, parentheses, ellipses, etc. But no periods.
So what do people get in this life for all their hard work and anxiety? Their days of labor are filled with pain and grief; even at night their minds cannot rest. It is all meaningless. —Ecclesiastes 2:22-23 NLT
With summer upon us, I remember fondly summers at our house in Toledo. On Sunday afternoons I’d lounge by the pool and bask in the sun. Cindy hated it because the girls would be playing in the pool and I’d invariably fall asleep on my lifeguard watch. I countered that I’d certainly hear the other screaming if the one were drowning.
I always had music playing outside. Sunday kind of music. Even now, Jacque will mention when Diana Krall or Jamie Cullum is playing that a certain song sounds like Sunday afternoon in the summer.
Sunday afternoon in our home has a feel and a sound to it. Sadly, I know too many people who fill their weekends with nonstop activity, whether because they’ve taken on too much labor and activities or don’t know how to rest. Living life with no periods. For us, Sunday afternoon is a nice three-hour period. A punctuation mark to end the week. (For me, Sunday has always been the end of the week, not the beginning.)
There’s a story in Matthew 8 where Jesus calms a raging storm. He and the disciples were in a boat being tossed by tempestuous waves, and Peter and the others were awfully afraid. I love this:
Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. BUT JESUS WAS SLEEPING. –Matthew 8:24 NLT (emphasis mine)
The disciples actually had to wake up Jesus. (Perhaps that’s what Cindy feared about my falling asleep by the pool.) Jesus criticized their lack of faith.
Learning to rest involves our trusting that God is in control and finding respite in his presence.
My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest. –Exodus 33:14 ESV
Learning to rest also involves adopting a healthier, more accurate view of ourselves, not considering ourselves more important than we are. E-mails and phone calls can be returned later. The world will continue to turn without our holding it up.
I encourage you, whether it’s a Tuesday evening or a weekend afternoon, turn on some Sunday kind of music and take a breather. Life makes more sense with periods.