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A Note from Jo on Rest

by Joanna Gaines
Published on November 16, 2020

Illustration by Lida Ziruffo

From our winter issue of Magnolia JournalOpens in new tab, Jo shares how rest restores and replenishes us for what’s to come.

A Season for Rest

Years ago, when planting a garden was only a dream in my mind, I would look out the kitchen window at the empty corner of our yard and see it all in my head. I imagined a garden that was lush and bountiful, overflowing with vegetables and herbs and flowers.

And, almost like magic, that’s exactly what happened during the first spring, summer, and fall that we began planting. We put in the work, and most everything went as planned. The garden was doing exactly what it was meant to do: growing, thriving, producing. It was as beautiful as I’d pictured it.

Then winter settled in, and as should’ve been expected, everything withered. It came time to pull up all of the plants and flowers that we’d grown to love, and the garden lay bare. It occurred to me that this was never a part of the dream. I never really imagined that, after months of tending to it and seasons of it overflowing with life, I’d look out at the garden and just see dirt.

But it’s what happened. And, it turns out, it’s what had to happen. I grew to learn how essential this season of rest is for the garden. How the soil needs a break in order to replenish its nutrients and become rich enough to nurture growth in the seasons to come. I grew to learn that the promise of harvest begins with this pause in nature’s pace.

I’ve also come to learn that I’m a lot like the garden. I, too, feel that I was made to work, to produce, to bear fruit. I come alive when I’m busy, when I’m checking things off my to-do list, and when my life is overflowing with all the things I believe I was made to do. And, in a world that often feels like it runs on efficiency and is driven by results, this all makes sense.

But, like the garden, I need rest—true, deep, meaningful, and nurturing rest. I need time to rest my body and rest my mind. I cannot run on fumes. In order to sustain and maintain my creativity, I need to be replenished and restored in ways only rest can provide. It’s the only thing that can carry me from what has been done to what is still to come.

As I write this, I’m sitting at my kitchen table and looking out at the garden. I’m thinking of all that’s grown from its soil over the past year. In the spring it was filled with tulips, snapdragons, lemon balm, and lettuce. In the summer we grew dahlias, basil, and way too many tomatoes. And then in the fall it produced a bounty of zinnias, cabbage, and kale. And now it’s empty.

Yet I know these months of barrenness will not be wasted, that they won’t ever return void. I’ve learned to appreciate the beauty of the garden at rest. How essential this season is. How it readies the soil for what’s to come, and how my own moments of quiet will do the same for me. Even if just for a breath or two.

So, I’ll sit back and take a deep breath and rest. I’ll pause to think about and give thanks for all the good work that has already been done and be restored for what work might lay ahead.

And I’ll find comfort in nature’s reminder that rest, as good as it is for the soil, is good for the soul too.

This story was adapted for digital from the winter issue of Magnolia Journal.

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