A Very Important Something

When I was at the women's conference, I felt I came so tightly wound, a state of "doing" I have since found to be a very common state of affairs among many friends. It seems the last few months have been incredibly hectic and busy for numerous people. We are a collective crew learning to create margins in our lives and especially learning how to keep them. It's not easy when you're used to operating at a high stress level, running your life by deadlines, flight schedules, and putting out fires. When you come down off of that tension either because you finally crash or at last realize how much it's taking out of you, it takes a while, 21 days I hear, to re-acclimate to having space to breathe.

This is the place I am now: re-grouping, re-acclimating, trying to hear and live by that natural rhythm of grace. It's not easy. While unpacking and cleaning my new apartment, I've been listening to a radio drama of the Narnia stories by C.S. Lewis. At one point while listening, I was laying by the fireplace and thought to myself, "I'm doing nothing. Hmm. Well, what is wrong with doing nothing?" For someone who tries to be so productive, to know that something was done by the end of the day, I'm coming to realize that "doing nothing" is actually doing a very important something. We have to have those moments of breath, those moments of quiet contemplation, of relaxation to give us space and a calm center, a place from which to draw strength and a wider perspective. How can you paint without thinking about the whole composition? How can you know a bar of music without hearing the whole song? There has to be time for fun, for play, for rest, for letting your mind wander, for doing nothing.

After such an intense period of moving, work, and travel, I'm struggling with the pace at which I'm getting other projects done. The list is long and filled with those large and small projects that need attending to but I find myself dragging my feet and I'm getting frustrated. I'm taking care of some of that stuff but it's taking longer than I want it to. I know that if I just sat down and worked really hard and intensely, I could get a lot done but I just can't do it. I can't keep going at that pace. I have to have time for breath. I have to realize that the pace of life I've been operating at isn't sustainable or even desirable. How can I help others, speak and write, if I can't take care of myself and the physical, emotional, and spiritual/soul nourishment I need? I write about margins but where are mine? Where is my space-filled structure of play and work?

I think my body knows better than my mind does in this case. I think for a while, I need to do more "nothing" than "something". I need to build up that reserve, make time to catch my breath, to stop and reflect, to make myself stop running. And yes, it feels like a bucket of cold water thrown in my face when I make myself be still. So much inside me is still moving, still thinking, that I have a very hard time just being still, sitting quietly and reflecting, listening. Last week when I saw my spiritual director, I had a difficult time doing this reflection, just being in that holy space with God. That more than anything else, loudly proclaimed the state of my heart.

So I am giving myself some grace. I am giving myself permission to go at a slower pace for a while, slower even than when I will have a good balance of work, play, and rest. For example, this morning I drove up to the seminary I attended for some time with a friend and mentor. After that, I was going to go hiking but as that got canceled, I am instead sitting in the library, enjoying being here in a place that meant so much to me and still does. I'm breathing in a place where I connected to God deeply and was transformed by the experience. It's where I learned to truly hear the song my soul sings and here without the other distractions of my life, I can hear it quite clearly again. I've missed those notes and that beautiful melody.

At the beginning of the women's conference, two weeks ago now, I remember telling God in the collective silence how tightly wound I felt. With compassion and gentleness in his voice, he replied, "We'll work on that." We worked on it with a basketball and hoop, we worked on it with playing cards, with shoes and a hiking trail. We worked on uncoiling me in a paddle boat on the lagoon and in the quiet moments I got to pull out a book and read. In those ways, he started taking the knot I tied myself into and unwinding, untangling the wires and threads. With gentle fingers he started prying me open, taking out the tension. It's a process I am still very much in. Tomorrow I am going out to where some friends are camping where I will have the freedom to walk, fish, write in my journal, and get lost in a good book. Next week between house sitting stints, I am hoping to go to a friend's cabin for more rest, time to enjoy being in the woods. If I can get myself quiet enough, I would love to write.

It's a hard process re-acclimating and learning to slow down, but it's much needed. I'm glad God didn't let me burn out completely before reigning me in. But operating like that, even though we may not realize it at the time, is actually quite destructive, not just to ourselves, but also to those around us. We don't have space for them. Conversations that need to be deep are shallow and touches needing to be made are never given. We fill our lives up with what we think needs to be done that we forget the things that really do. We forget the people, the leisurely talks and prayers, the time to touch another life, unplanned. If we strain to keep hurrying along, we will miss nearly everything to relish in along the way.

I know I don't want to live like that. I want to have the time to look at a painting, to spontaneously go out for coffee with a new friend, to be in those places God gives me where I have something to give from him, and something to receive. I don't want to be concentrating so hard on cooking for myself that I don't hear God knocking on the door with a dish of his own to share. I just don't. So here I am, learning to breathe, taking the time, slowing myself down so I can hear God moving. That in itself is a gift of grace: hearing him move. And now, when I clearly hear the difference between what it sounds like when he moves and when I move, I have to say, I much prefer the sound of him and if this is what it takes, sitting in front of my fireplace doing "nothing", then I am all for it. I am all for shutting up, being quiet, and hearing him. It's high time I did.

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Walking the Sea: A Very Important <em>Something</em>

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Very Important Something

When I was at the women's conference, I felt I came so tightly wound, a state of "doing" I have since found to be a very common state of affairs among many friends. It seems the last few months have been incredibly hectic and busy for numerous people. We are a collective crew learning to create margins in our lives and especially learning how to keep them. It's not easy when you're used to operating at a high stress level, running your life by deadlines, flight schedules, and putting out fires. When you come down off of that tension either because you finally crash or at last realize how much it's taking out of you, it takes a while, 21 days I hear, to re-acclimate to having space to breathe.

This is the place I am now: re-grouping, re-acclimating, trying to hear and live by that natural rhythm of grace. It's not easy. While unpacking and cleaning my new apartment, I've been listening to a radio drama of the Narnia stories by C.S. Lewis. At one point while listening, I was laying by the fireplace and thought to myself, "I'm doing nothing. Hmm. Well, what is wrong with doing nothing?" For someone who tries to be so productive, to know that something was done by the end of the day, I'm coming to realize that "doing nothing" is actually doing a very important something. We have to have those moments of breath, those moments of quiet contemplation, of relaxation to give us space and a calm center, a place from which to draw strength and a wider perspective. How can you paint without thinking about the whole composition? How can you know a bar of music without hearing the whole song? There has to be time for fun, for play, for rest, for letting your mind wander, for doing nothing.

After such an intense period of moving, work, and travel, I'm struggling with the pace at which I'm getting other projects done. The list is long and filled with those large and small projects that need attending to but I find myself dragging my feet and I'm getting frustrated. I'm taking care of some of that stuff but it's taking longer than I want it to. I know that if I just sat down and worked really hard and intensely, I could get a lot done but I just can't do it. I can't keep going at that pace. I have to have time for breath. I have to realize that the pace of life I've been operating at isn't sustainable or even desirable. How can I help others, speak and write, if I can't take care of myself and the physical, emotional, and spiritual/soul nourishment I need? I write about margins but where are mine? Where is my space-filled structure of play and work?

I think my body knows better than my mind does in this case. I think for a while, I need to do more "nothing" than "something". I need to build up that reserve, make time to catch my breath, to stop and reflect, to make myself stop running. And yes, it feels like a bucket of cold water thrown in my face when I make myself be still. So much inside me is still moving, still thinking, that I have a very hard time just being still, sitting quietly and reflecting, listening. Last week when I saw my spiritual director, I had a difficult time doing this reflection, just being in that holy space with God. That more than anything else, loudly proclaimed the state of my heart.

So I am giving myself some grace. I am giving myself permission to go at a slower pace for a while, slower even than when I will have a good balance of work, play, and rest. For example, this morning I drove up to the seminary I attended for some time with a friend and mentor. After that, I was going to go hiking but as that got canceled, I am instead sitting in the library, enjoying being here in a place that meant so much to me and still does. I'm breathing in a place where I connected to God deeply and was transformed by the experience. It's where I learned to truly hear the song my soul sings and here without the other distractions of my life, I can hear it quite clearly again. I've missed those notes and that beautiful melody.

At the beginning of the women's conference, two weeks ago now, I remember telling God in the collective silence how tightly wound I felt. With compassion and gentleness in his voice, he replied, "We'll work on that." We worked on it with a basketball and hoop, we worked on it with playing cards, with shoes and a hiking trail. We worked on uncoiling me in a paddle boat on the lagoon and in the quiet moments I got to pull out a book and read. In those ways, he started taking the knot I tied myself into and unwinding, untangling the wires and threads. With gentle fingers he started prying me open, taking out the tension. It's a process I am still very much in. Tomorrow I am going out to where some friends are camping where I will have the freedom to walk, fish, write in my journal, and get lost in a good book. Next week between house sitting stints, I am hoping to go to a friend's cabin for more rest, time to enjoy being in the woods. If I can get myself quiet enough, I would love to write.

It's a hard process re-acclimating and learning to slow down, but it's much needed. I'm glad God didn't let me burn out completely before reigning me in. But operating like that, even though we may not realize it at the time, is actually quite destructive, not just to ourselves, but also to those around us. We don't have space for them. Conversations that need to be deep are shallow and touches needing to be made are never given. We fill our lives up with what we think needs to be done that we forget the things that really do. We forget the people, the leisurely talks and prayers, the time to touch another life, unplanned. If we strain to keep hurrying along, we will miss nearly everything to relish in along the way.

I know I don't want to live like that. I want to have the time to look at a painting, to spontaneously go out for coffee with a new friend, to be in those places God gives me where I have something to give from him, and something to receive. I don't want to be concentrating so hard on cooking for myself that I don't hear God knocking on the door with a dish of his own to share. I just don't. So here I am, learning to breathe, taking the time, slowing myself down so I can hear God moving. That in itself is a gift of grace: hearing him move. And now, when I clearly hear the difference between what it sounds like when he moves and when I move, I have to say, I much prefer the sound of him and if this is what it takes, sitting in front of my fireplace doing "nothing", then I am all for it. I am all for shutting up, being quiet, and hearing him. It's high time I did.

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1 Comments:

At July 8, 2010 at 5:04 PM , Anonymous Deanna said...

I don't even know how to voice my responce to this...you probably would guess that I'd like to...When you told God you wanted to slow down and he said, "We'll work on that", it was a much gentler response than what I would have given, along the lines of "It's about d*** time you dumped some of that s*** off your poor overloaded plate!!" REEEEELLLLLAAAAXXXX. I highly recommend looooong and frequent periods of unstructured time for you right now. I love that you've gone off the grid for a couple of days. Your productivity has zero correlation to your significance or worth. Breathe. Te quiero amiga! <3

 

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