I’ve been on a vacation, of sorts. At the beginning of this month, returning from the border, I decided to “unplug”. From everything. I felt that both my body and my mind were signaling to me that they (I) needed a rest. So..
I went about making the change deliberately…identifying all the entities in my life that were serving no positive purpose. I cancelled some subscriptions. I dropped time consuming involvements whose only purpose was to eat up my time. I deleted all the apps on my phone that supposedly served to make me an “engaged and informed citizen” of our world, our country, our neighborhood. And I stopped bingeing on cable news shows. The latter two cancellations proved to be my best gift to self!
I had to do this. All the news I was voraciously consuming was turning me into someone I didn’t want to be. I was angry. I was ignoring what was important in my life. Treasured times and conversations with family and friends had turned into rant sessions as I complained about some newly developing frustrating situation over which I had no control. This unpleasant harpy was becoming the new me.
That’s when I surrendered to the biddings of my body and mind. I continued to journal, though, and I that’s where I first noticed a positive change. My daily entries slowly moved from grievance to gratitude. Rant was swapped out for relaxation. I re-focused on all that was good in my life – all that was working – all the gifts for which I am ever so grateful. Yes…now I was at rest.
And last week, the icing on the cake. We spent a few days on Edisto Island in South Carolina, at the home of my oldest son and his family. No place on earth is more serene. Each new day brings the awesome experience of waking to astounding sunrises. And each evening there is another mind-blowing sunset. The beauty and sounds of nature’s genius are ever on display among the low-lying marshlands. These soul-soothing memories linger still…here at home. True peace.
Quite a contrast to the way I started the month. And then, as things happen with me, I came across the inspirational works of Kaitlin Curtice, a member of the Potawatomi Nation, who calls upon her indigenous-ness as a basis for tender and emotional prose. Kaitlin writes poignantly about “identity, soul-searching, and being on the never-ending journey of finding ourselves and finding God.” All of this is what draws me to her. Her latest book, Glory Happening…Finding the Divine in Everyday Places, is available here.
And so, as I hope you each consider disconnecting if and whenever necessary, I offer you one of her beautiful poems…
It shouldn’t have been this way,
that rest would be both a luxury and a curse,
instead of the divineness within us.
And yet, here we are,
struggling to sit still,
to wait with ourselves,
to listen to breath and spirit as they whisper.
We have forgotten the gift of rest,
and so, at first,
it is forced.
We reject the laptop and the phone,
the chores and the to-do list,
and we wait, and it is painful waiting.
We wait for our bodies to settle down,
and we tell them to keep settling:
Keep sipping that warm drink,
keep writing in that journal,
keep the eyes closed,
keep the breath steady,
keep listening to the dogs snore as they sleep,
keep watching the fire in the wood stove.
And maybe, eventually, it won’t be forced anymore.
Eventually, we will settle into ourselves effortlessly,
With a smile and a robust gratitude that capitalism
Cannot take away.
We will say, “Welcome home” to ourselves,
again and again, and “You belong here”
and “This rest is holy” because it is,
and we are,
and it only took our whole lives till now
to understand, and to let the gift be the gift,
to let the rest be the rest,
to let our bodies and our souls
find on another and become best friends again,
or, quite possibly, for the first time ever.
Welcome home, my friends!