Pavement Ponderings: “Ruhetag” Mondays

For most, Monday mornings mean the dreaded time of the week. For me, they’re my favorite.

I get one day off a week, which happens to be Mondays. It’s quite lovely timing as it comes after the busy 14-hour days at the dorm during the weekend. In fact, Germans often take their “Ruhetag” (literally “Rest Day”) on Mondays also, closing up their shops and cafes.

I love this concept of a “Rest Day.” No one in town gets exempt, just as no one avoids sleep after a hard day’s work. The prospect of making less money is no motivation to prolong their hours and keep their signs to “Offen.” Germans simply close because it is time to rest. To argue this would be to argue with nature, tradition, sacrament. For Germans in the Black Forest, leisure is important. Clubs are as common as hobbies. Hikers and cyclists can be spotted any time. Natives know their neighbors and share their involved lives together.

I like that my day off falls on the Ruhetag of so much of my town. It reminds me to do the same as the dark shop I peer into through the window with longing. It affirms to me that I can in fact be still and trust I’m not missing anything in the quiet, locked-up town. For so much of my life before coming to Germany was spent striving tirelessly to complete, succeed, perform, then repeat. Rest proved anti-productive to this routine I created for myself and others around me for themselves.

But even since settling into my new home in the Black Forest, I too often prefer the pace of busy school life in bustling Chicago. The pace that desires to impress and prove to be enough. Throughout the week I strive within and without, believing I must in order to please those around me and maintain this familiar pace.

I’m growing more aware each day of my need to “be diligent to enter that rest,” the kind that’s permanent, secure and enough, not just one day of the week. It’s a Rest that reaches into my entire being. A ceasing from labor in its entirety. A Rest that affirms my very life and its identity. A Rest that brings me back to reliance by exposing my limited strength. The Rest that delights over me with singing in my perceived failures and disappointment of others. Christ is drawing me back into Himself who is my Rest. He is my complete and final Rest through His finished work that is saving me every day. He calms by being and whispers for me to cease my striving and know that He is God. A rest from the possibility of thinking that I could somehow please Him any more than I already do. Ruhetags merely serve as a picture of this completed Reality that is my posture and position every other day of the week.

Whether this life of rest is being lived in a forest or a colorful city, Christ is my Rest and my Life who makes me enough.

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