Below is the fruit of Hope Writer’s Challenge, 01/18: Rest.
“Rest is not idleness; indeed, restlessness is the torment of idle people. It is not relaxation. Relaxation should never be necessary, because the nervous tension which makes it so should never be present.
“Rest…is a culmination, a fulness of gathered peace, like the fullness and stillness of waters gathered to a flood tide.”Caryll Houselander, Wood of the Cradle, Wood of the Cross
Think of a mother and child asleep together, the author says. Or of curling up with your household pet. The adult and baby, or human and pet sleep together not out of exhaustion, but out of the delight to be there.
Simply staying with that object of your affection, resting in the very delight of being with that object nourishes the heart
You learn to recognize this in your sit spot. It requires stillness and trust.
Stillness is arrived at by slowing down and trusting that process.
Trust is arrived at by Hope in Faith that it will all work out and Surrender to that Faith.
Charles Péguy says it so beautifully in this “brief” excerpt from The Portal of the Mystery of Hope:
As a child lays innocently in his mother’s arms, thus do they not lay. Innocently in the arms of my Providence. They have the courage to work. They don’t have the courage to do nothing. They possess the virtue of work. They don’t possess the virtue of doing nothing. Of relaxing. Of resting. Of sleeping. Unhappy people, they don’t know what’s good. They look after their affairs well during the day. But they don’t want to give them to me to look after during the night. As if I weren’t capable of looking after them for one night. He who doesn’t sleep is unfaithful to Hope. And that’s the greatest infidelity. Because it’s an infidelity to the greatest Faith. Poor children, they manage their affairs wisely during the day. But, come nightfall, they can’t resolve They can’t resign themselves to entrust their affairs to my wisdom They can’t allow me to govern their affairs for the space of one night. To take over the management and government of their affairs. As if I weren’t capable, I suppose, of looking after them a bit. Of watching over them.
This poem, an amusing observation of the confidence of children is an excellent mediation on the process of surrendering and confidence in the one who has charge over all creation.
The surrender of sleep of children speaks volumes of Trust in Rest.
It is up to each individual to become aware of what how they can create that stillness within them. The mental engine must slow down from going very fast, to sinking to a low purr.
In slowing down, things begin to settle, and you can see more clearly. Gradually, like snow settling in a snow globe, you can see where and how this rest, this delight and culmination is to be found.
At the sit spot, whether it is a favorite room in your house facing outside, or on the front porch -or in your car (electrical devices off!), the flurries of life begin to settle. You see a harmony with what is happening in you also happening in nature. In fact, sometimes it seems like you, the steward of all creation as the human being, are late to the activity of nature: of being.
“Just as plants go dormant and inward every winter, replenishing their reserves for the spring season ahead, so too must humans make space for stillness, reflection and rest if we wish to have energy for times requiring action.
If we give ourselves the space to pause, we begin building an unconscious muscle that is far better tuned, during both times of stillness and action, to see through the snow flurries and strategically navigate … our lifetimes. If intention is the campfire, the art of stillness is the fuel that feeds the flames of passion, creativity, and inspiration.”Katie Hanus, The Nature Wheel, Little Rituals: Sit Outside
This muscle of pausing and making your attention notice things takes time to develop.
In this pausing, being with natural creation, you begin to realize you are sitting in the hand of a wonderful Creator who loves you. Your heart naturally goes to him, to rest in him, as you observe all the plants and trees, and squirrels and dirt cheerfully going about their business.
Eventually, being still, within your heart and mind, filling it only with the object of your love or delight leads to other fulfilling things, like sitting and being able to take in a sunrise, stepping away from work just to watch the arctic geese overhead, getting to watch them vanish over the full moon. Rest is being able to sit with a good friend and share some delights, or with a new piece of music, or a good book.
Finally, rest is being able to go bed, and letting the one who created night have a go at your cares and worries, while you, like a little child, fall asleep saying his prayers under the wings of his guardian angel (Peguy).
In developing this muscle of stillness, you can find micro-moments of rest: looking at the dog staring at you, out at the window at the clouds drifting in the sky, within your soul, “My soul shall be as a watered garden.” In these micro-moments, instant zaps of wonder, joy, and energy from gratitude rejuvenate you, refresh you.
And from this comes an acceptance of the necessity of rest. Letting someone else take over. Not just in moments of the day, but throughout life. Just as natures has its seasons, so does the human. In the season of rest our resistance turns to surrender, and with that surrender, the acceptance of times of dormancy. After that dormancy, we can come out of our hibernation, become a little more like the cheerful squirrel, chirping bird, the quiet, loyal dog, or the happy child that revels in spring.
“Come to me, all you who are burdened and I will give rest.” Matt 11:28-30
Thanks for reading!
Do you have a favorite moment of rest besides sleep? Right now mine is saying hello to the chickens each day.
Below is the entire poem of Péguy. I’ve often used his stuff for meditation fodder. Very rich. He died in WWI as a soldier on the Western Front in 1915.
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