It always takes time, it always feels slightly self-indulgent, yet I feel it is always necessary. While we might somehow hold to the idea that life is mostly about joy and activity and community and passion and purpose and moving forward, it is also about taking the time to to embrace loss and sadness, and to choose the place of silence and solitude for a time. As the good book says, there’s a time for everything under the sun.
I would like to suggest that without fully engaging in the difficult and sometimes awkward practice of inward focus, we might be living a life that is skimming the surface, and missing the deeper things that make life meaningful.
Now I readily accept the differences of personality types, the predisposed bent of the sanguine vs. the melancholy. But what I’m talking about is not that, rather it’s about choosing to slow down, unplug, disengage from regular life, to discover who you really are on the inside, and what your place is in this world.
I’m sure you’ve all experienced what it’s like to be on vacation and feel (around the third day) the release that comes from stepping off the tread mill of life. If you are a parent, just being away for the weekend with your spouse is exhilarating, as suddenly there is no child based conflict, no set meal times, no reason to not stay in bed late. Even if you are on a family vacation, there’s a freedom that comes from an open schedule and room for each other (especially if you leave the electronics at home). Or, you may have experienced a particularly lovely Sunday afternoon, where you are outside digging in the garden, and you suddenly become aware of birds singing and a feeling of peace overtakes you?
Our souls crave this type of time ‘apart’. Whether it’s for introspection or prayer, for remembrance, to work through feelings of anger or grief or forgiveness, to re-establish our purpose, or to fire up our passion again, a healthy part of living an active productive life is to honour our inner life too. And that takes time and consistency, and courage.
In the Jewish tradition, this practice is called Sabbath rest. In the Christian community, it takes the form of solitude or silence for the purposes of making space for God. For you it might be a hike in the woods, or a walk along a beach, or to journal your thoughts and prayers. Or, it could be something else. Like listening to a story on the radio.
I was listening to ‘Vinyl Cafe’ on my way home from dropping off the kids today, and it occurred to me that this particular story illustrates my point very well. So, if you have 23:03 minutes on this Sunday afternoon, I hope you can listen in. Usually Stewart McLean is very funny… this time, well, he is not. It’s a poignant story about slowing down, remembering, listening, and honour.
It’s called, ‘Remembrance Day’.
(I’m sorry to say, that until I can work through the technology to share ‘Remembrance Day’ with you here, I will have to ask you to google it, or visit your local library or book/music store. It’s available in a collection of stories called ‘The Vinyl Cafe – Storyland’.)