The Project:  A picnic.  The Occasion:  A special thank-you.  The Destination: Historic Walnford, a revolutionary-aged estate turned county park tucked away in a forgotten corner of NJ along Crosswicks Creek.  Funny thing - Walnford was once a hub of activity with two grist mills, a sawmill and a shipping wharf to send the wares downriver, to the Delaware, on to Philadelphia and then the world. 

It was hard to imagine that anything busier than a plodding ox ever passed through Walnford the day our party of three spread our lunch fare on the picnic table under a stately tree.  Acres of green stretched before us. Ours was the only car in the lot other than that of the maintenance person mowing the lawn.

After eating we moseyed along the gravel lane under the mature trees enjoying the scent of freshly mown grass.  There were lilies in front of the grist mill.  Flowering bushes graced the 200 year old home. All was peace.  All was tranquility.  “I need a place like this,” my friend said, “A place to escape to when the pressure of the job catches up with me.”

Is there nowhere else to find pockets of peace in our over-taxed, under-playful, stressed-out lives?  Do we have to search out the Walnford’s of our neighborhoods to find tranquility?  Not a bad idea, but King David found another retreat just as viable.  He maintains, “How blessed the man you train, God, the woman you instruct in your Word, Providing a circle of quiet within the clamor of evil...”*

A circle of quiet.  The rest of that psalm laments a world turned wrong where the innocent get blamed and the wicked get away with murder.  But David asks us, “Do you think Ear-Maker doesn’t hear, Eye-shaper doesn’t see?”*  All the while he maintained that his connection with God connected him to sanity during this difficult time.

More sanity...I’m all for it.  Grab it where you can, whether in the natural world or in the circle of quiet that God’s Word provides.  However, there is a hint provided in the words ‘you instruct’. 

Maybe there exists a better way to live.  Maybe all it takes is a willingness to be taught it.

After all, Christ invites, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

Apparently a gentle spirit grants as much rest as rolling acres of parkland.  Why not find one and hang out with him or her for a while?  Maybe God has something for you to learn.

*  from Psalm 94, The Message

*  from Psalm 94, The Message

*  Matthew 11: 28-30 NIV