I’ve been contemplating rest again. It would seem that this is a life fruit for me to partake of.
I came down with mono a couple weeks ago, and now have the problem of resting when I don’t necessarily feel tired. My mind and body say “Go Go Go!” yet wisdom tells me to pause and delve into the depths of peaceful rest. Here’s what I’ve learned in the last week or two.
1. God created the world and everything on it. God rested. God is God, and I’m pretty sure He’s never been tired (except maybe as Jesus after a good day’s teaching). But He rested. If God rests when He’s not tired, there must be something more to it than recuperation. What I want to know: How exactly did God spend the first Sabbath? Surveying His new work with pleasure? What does God do when He rests? Does He rest still?
2. Not all rest is created equal. For example, Pinterest and design blogs do not equate to rest. Rest is meant to be food for the soul, mind, body, spirit. It sustains the run and savors the fruit of life’s labors.
3. Rest requires some prep time. I cannot rest in a cluttered and dirty space. When I have a night in, before popping in a movie or sitting down with a book I clean to my heart’s content (and yes, I enjoy it). In a season of rest, it can be good to declutter your mind by turning off the white noise. Fast from music, media, etc. If your work interferes with your thought life like it can mine, make lists in one place of all the To Do’s, get done with the urgent items, and let it be until you’re on work time again.
4. There are ways to engage in a more restful lifestyle. Weed out some anxiety that may appear in the form of critical or fearful people. Make Not To Do lists. Stick with them. Figure out what you love, what things in your life are important to you and what brings you life, then get rid of the rest so that you can fully engage in your life. This is your story, and you are living it now. Make it the one you want.
5. A true rest is the fruit of thankfulness which comes with the bonus of Joy. Practice practice practice. When encountering a frustration (especially in the form of another person), say a mental thank you for something you appreciate in them. When feeling hopeless, give thanks. When feeling critical, give thanks. When you’re happy, give thanks. 🙂
6. Rest is where love lives. Rest was created for humanity to enjoy. The Sabbath was created for man, and not man for the Sabbath.
Thankfulness brings me into now. In an earlier post I wrote about the power of Joy to open this moment in Time to us. Thanksgiving brings us to joy. A thankful heart is the cure for forward focused eyes. It brings me to this space I have right now and opens my heart to see the gifts all round. My open eyes seeing, discontent flees.
Here I can see, the sky so many blues and pinks and oranges, stark rock mountain form building up to touch sky as if the earth would build a Babel of its own. Feel love’s arms tight wrapped. Sunsets mirrored in glassy buildings, warm breeze. Books, collections of words, strung along in fluid stories taking me, telling me. God, ever God. Love’s loving presence starting at the crown of my head and melting down through. Coffee shops teeming with hipsters. Sweet aloe juice. Life everywhere, stories moving and becoming all around me. The chance to give what I have to this moment.
I have dubbed this my Year of Yes. A forgetful, lacking Yes, but also a Yes full fed on the grace that carries me along the wilderness of my short-fallings. This year has been filled with reminders to abide in thanksgiving, and I find this is not coincidental. I am learning that Thankfulness is the open-armed Yes of the Spirit to the grace-full gifts from God.
“The highest form of prayer is to the goodness of God…. God only desires that our soul should cling to Him with all its strength, in particular, that it clings to His goodness. For all of the things our minds can think about God, it is thinking upon His goodness that pleases Him most and brings the most profit to our soul.”
– Julian of Norwich
How easy to say my Yes’s and live such a no-ness to what He has offered me. He saved us not to condemn us. He saved us to live full lives, good stories, bringing us to our true identity. We could live like His children: secure and confident like a child of a King would be; to accept His love, and not to shun it as we do, casting up the memories of our sin before His face beaming love.
Does it gratify our God when I gaze on my sin and cast my face in the mud? What kind of God would He be? What kind of goodness is that? But He does not even remember our sins. The first time I really heard this it shocked me. Not to grovel in lowly wormness? That in itself felt sinful. Yet Truth eased my heart into accepting over and over His total forgiveness. Not only His forgiveness, but His joyful love for me. I always have believed God was good, but this good? Is it presumptuous? Or is it a promise repeated over and over in his word?
I have to remind myself God created humans because He wanted to pour His love and grace and abundance on them. It’s His idea. He did not create I or they to lord with scowling eyes and angry heart. His desire for us is that we would realize this, and realize it fully. His goodness. How His heart yearns for our halting and hesitant Yes to His goodness, His gifts of new-ness.
And how say Yes to joy? “I will enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise” there is the key. Praise unlocks the gate, thanksgiving opens it. And when the gate has sprung open all the goodness of God will flow in freely.
Yes to who He sees when He looks at me. A beautiful, flawless one. A precious one. Powerful in the authority of His kingdom. Filled with the freedom of grace. Lit with Joy. Alive like one who is beloved.
When we say Yes to Him we say Yes to the raw vulnerability of trust. We seek with thanksgiving, expecting good things (the scariest part of all… to expect!), truly believing He really is that good.
Someone told me a couple of days ago that I am not meant to be treading water at this time.
Isn’t that what everyone wants to be told? Every story begins with the protagonist receiving a yank out of the water so they can begin with their purpose. Oh I cringe at the thought of working and working and never moving. Work, and to what end? To stay alive at the cost of living?
To always be seeing, always learning and ready for wonder. I am on a mission. My feet leave the outline of purpose in the dust of this earth. I live to seek Truth, to enjoy, to love, and to leave this world full to the brim and splashing over the sides.
I will not merely tread water. I will not, I am not, I will not I am not.
I will face the fear I hide in me.
I will spend my energies, only to find that in spending I have gained.
I will fall into awe at no moment’s notice.
Life eternal is nought other than that blessed regard wherewith Thou never ceasest to behold me, yea, even the secret places of my soul. With Thee, to behold is to give Life; ’tis unceasingly to impart sweetest love of Thee; tis to inflame me to love of Thee by love’s imparting, and to feed me by inflaming, and by feeding to kindle my yearning, and by kindling to make me drink of the dew of gladness, and by drinking to infuse in me a fountain of life, and by infusing to make it increase and endure.
– Nicholas of Cusa
Faith is the gaze of the soul on a loving God. – AW Tozer
There is so much value in balance. Giving equal weight to the other side in order to remain upright. Peace can by found in the harmony of balance. Balance is intentional, it’s a balancing Act not a balancing accident. 🙂
And so, today is about practicing the intentional. Saying yes in the moment to pressing in a bit more, stretching further into the present, the person in front of you. Friendship is not an accident, and powerful people are those with deep friendships. I am powerful in my decision to listen with my attention, to be vulnerable when I feel it the least.
I’ve grown up wondering how it is that some people connect so easily to others. It seems like a gift. But I don’t think it is anymore. I think it’s hard work sometimes. It’s energy and intention. It’s purposeful and powerful.
I have lived in 3 states in the last 3 years. The question of community is a big one. If you were to ask me the recipe for community I would say put in equal parts Time, Intention, and Chance. I don’t know if Chance is what it is, but it often feels like finding the right people in the right place is a matter of luck. There’ve been times I’ve had it and times I haven’t.
I do know that living balanced outside of community is hard. It’s hard but, it’s a good time to learn to know yourself. I have been learning to be honest with myself and with God. I’m not afraid of not feeling ok. Feelings work themselves out in an environment of grace. And I’ll be ready for true community when I find it because I have grace for myself and the courage to be honest.
I’ve been thinking about solitude.
To me it means the antithesis of isolation. Isolation is the sequestering of the self, hiding and disconnecting from the world, even yourself. Solitude is for me a practice of setting yourself apart from distractions for a time in order to connect more deeply and truly.
My dad has always encouraged my sisters and I in the practice of stillness. In being still and removing the media and noise, the mental clutter, I get to encounter my own thoughts, God’s thoughts, and purge the white noise in my mind. Then I emerge, reconnect with the earth, and see again for the first time. Listen with my spirit, my eyes and my ears. And then the seeing and hearing can engage my soul in the joy of connection, discovery, wholeness.
I was recently reading a book called The Art of Pilgrimage by Phil Cousineau. He emphasizes the importance of preparing for your journey, not only with plans and packs, but by taking the time to slow down while surrounded by your every day life. He says that if you cannot slow down before you leave, where your normal is, you will not slow down on your journey. It is the art of seeing that differentiates physical traveling from true traveling. The ability to see, to experience and appreciate.
For me, practicing stillness (or solitude) looks like prayer days, going somewhere peaceful whether it’s a monastery or a park or a prayer house to soak in His Presence under a blanket of bliss, like turning off the tv/cell/ipod/laptop/whatever, like journaling or reading something inspiring, and doing these things consistently until it clicks. Until I feel the peace of quiet in my mind, and sitting still for 5 minutes no longer makes me fidget and I can stop making lists in my head :).
I think someone has called it the “inward gaze of the soul”, to be in touch with the state of your mind and spirit and with God’s love and peace. Then move about your day in wonder at the way the earth is formed, and feel in yourself the joyful knowledge of being fully loved.
I’ve made it a goal (that I’ve not kept well) to become more mindful. Maybe I’ve kept it more than I think I have, now that I think about it; at any rate, I love the idea of mindfulness.
I’ve always been a dreamer. I love otherness. Probably I always will, and I like that too. Today, though, something clicked.
If you’ve ever read C.S. Lewis’s ‘Surprised by Joy’ then you have read about the climax of mindfulness, the very pinnacle of alive-ness. It is in moments of great Joy that I am most present and fully aware of where I am and who I am and eternity. For me, it’s when I am still, and usually has something to do with the sky, or Autumn, Christmas, or mountains. Waves of gratitude just about overwhelm me, and tears roll down my face as the longing and realization of beauty set in. I almost can’t take it.
“It was when I was happiest that I longed most…The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing…to find the place where all the beauty came from.”
— C.S. Lewis (Till We Have Faces: A Myth Retold)
That mindfulness, to me, must be the greatest form of mindfulness. In those moments I feel the embrace of eternity, and everything, all priorities, are placed where they ought always to have been. Truth is in the Joy.