…Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until it’s calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself…
(excerpt from John O’Donohue’s blessing For the One Who is Exhausted)
The lockdown that started in the spring of 2020 brought a variety of effects, responses, voids, and awakenings. Whenever I find myself reflecting with friends about an event or experience that occurred in the past five years, I find there’s almost a two-to-three-year gap when life was on hold. Things happened, but in the rhythm of life, it is as if those years were lost. Put on pause. Held in place. Almost didn’t exist in the natural flow of time. How is it that my niece graduated high school this year? Isn’t she only 16? Oh, right…she’s 18. Life did move forward. It’s time.
As spring of 2022 arrived, life started to return to its humming pace. There were gifts of renewed energy; of glorious hugs; of encounters that were enhanced by a deeper presence. I knew I wasn’t the same, so I wanted to intentionally move forward with the gifts and lessons that had risen to the top of those “lost years.” Yes, there were indeed traumas and losses (some quite deep), yet I wanted to re-enter the world like a bear coming out of hibernation: slowly emerging from a necessary, built in pause to life. A pause that included some much-needed clarity, along with a forced rest. Both-And. Whether I was ready for it or not, there was an unwinding that was necessary, sprinkled with opportunities for healing. Both-And. A reboot. A chance to honor and release aspects of life that were holding me back while allowing for restoration of parts of myself that had been buried or left behind. Both-And. I experienced pain from loss as well as renewal from growth. Both-And.
Draw near to Me and I will draw near to you.
As the “humming pace” increased, I felt excitement as well as overwhelm. Both-And: experiencing challenge and difficulty as well as gratitude and gift existing at the same time. Breathe. Discovering a new rhythm to my life. Breathe in, breathe out. Recognizing and allowing the Both-And. Breathe in, breathe out, and settle. Moments of “moving forward” intertwined with parts of life not in my control seemingly pulling me back. Breathe in, breathe out, and settle alongside The Stillness. Loosening my grip on where I want my life to be and being present to where it is. Breathe in, breathe out, and settle alongside The Stillness within. I am recognizing the daily invitation to pause, breathe, and be present to The Stillness of The One Who Loves Me that’s available within me, each day. Whew!
Draw near to me and I will draw near to you.
The book of James is a letter to those who are suffering all kinds of different hardships in life. In the fourth chapter, we hear the invitation from God to draw near to Me and I will draw near to you. I find when I intentionally do so, I hear the still small voice of the One who loves me and truly knows me. The One who reminds me to be gentle with myself. I am forever a work in progress. I am perpetually growing. I can say no to plans when I need to recharge. Breathe. I reach out to friends when I’m feeling lonely. Draw near. I can be excessively gentle with myself, and with others. May I be a life-long learner of how to follow the invitation and move from needing answers now so that my life can make sense, to regularly returning to the One who holds me, and whose calmness can claim me, as I regularly draw near.