To be idle and blessed

What do we do when we are exhausted with life? Here are some thoughts and stories.

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Sometimes we feel we have nothing left. We are empty. Dry. Earth that is caked and cracked and aching for water.

weary 1We have done too much in our lives, driven too many miles to work, attended too many meetings, cooked too many meals, had too many sleep-deprived nights, and worried too much about children or spent too many hours caring for aging parents.

We’d like to pull the covers over our heads and sleep. Preferably for months.

This, I believe, is the human condition today.  We are exhausted, physically. On a deeper level, we are soul weary. Our spirits yearn to be refreshed.

But how do we do that? How do we restore our being, especially when so much is demanded of us?

A friend of mine has been grappling with these questions for some years. She wakes up at 5 a.m. each day and travels into Manhattan where she works for a large corporation. Her pay is excellent but in exchange, she puts in long hours, manages mind-numbing projects and puts up with wearisome meetings. If she loved her work, perhaps all that would be bearable. But she doesn’t. After work hours, she is exhausted, with little energy to do the things that might replenish her.

My own story is one of caregiving. I was pushed into the “graduate course” of self-nurturing after my father had a stroke two years ago. I eventually came to realize at deepest levels that I had to make time for myself, even if it was for an hour. Otherwise, I had nothing left for him, myself or anyone else.

quiet and restToday, I am still learning to let go and simply be — to allow a sunset to soak into my soul, to curl up with a book or daydream — and not feel guilty about it. I know that if I don’t make time, it won’t happen. So I schedule a date with my spirit, to nourish it, and with my body, to relax and heal it.

Only we can decide what will refresh us down deep. It may be gardening. Prayer. A walk. A nap with a dog curled at our feet. Or, it may be allowing the moment to unfold in its fullness while we “do” nothing. I love Mary Oliver’s poem, “The Summer Day” and her words:

“… I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, how to be idle and blessed …”

Sadly, we have forgotten how to pay attention. We don’t know how “to be idle.” So, for many of us, “falling down into the grass” won’t be easy. Being human, we will make excuses and allow the pressures of life to drain us.

But the truth is, some task or person will always be pulling at us. To find rest for ourselves, we may need to ask for help. We may need to say “no” more often. Or, we may need to let go of what no longer serves us. My friend did this. She eventually left her corporate job and although her income is meager, her soul is flourishing.

What I continue to learn is this: Much may be demanded of us but we have a choice as to how we respond. We can choose to be gentle with our precious being. We can simplify our lives and make the time to reboot, even if it’s for five or 10 minutes.

daisyIn the silence of our hearts, we can allow ourselves to fall into the arms of the Divine Beloved who wants nothing more than our restoration. We can be idle. And blessed.

Only then, will the hard earth soften. Life-giving waters flow into our hearts. And our souls bloom.

 

 

 

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4 thoughts on “To be idle and blessed

  1. Beautiful article with so much to reflect upon.Marilena, I was once like that on auto pilot, I enjoyed work, but there were days when I’d rush from one place of work to another with no time to breathe, I remember looking at the passersby & wishing I had the time to “just be”, until one day I realized you get to choose, to make time
    & since then, my appreciation for what other’s might consider mundane things has changed a hundred fold, now I appreciate the spaces between “doing” & rejoice in guilt free indulgence.Thank you, for sharing your beautiful thoughts in your writing, it’s always good to be reminded.

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    • I always so much appreciate your comments, Maya, and how beautiful your words are. I loved that you now “appreciate the spaces between doing and rejoice in guilt-free indulgence.” That is so beautiful. I believe learning to be “idle and blessed” is a journey for all of us, moving into spaces where we’re caught up in the “busy-ness” of life before we know it — and then reminding ourselves to stop, breathe and come to know that we have a choice about refreshing and renewing our bodies and spirits. Thanks, dear friend!

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  2. Marielena, so beautiful, so beautifully written and as always. It is so important, too. When I was caring for my partner I omitted to do this, to take time out even for an hour. By the time my partner left I collapsed and was ill for months…in fact maybe longer! I learnt the painful way. Eventually with outside help and a Knowing within me I simply let go of everything and “fell into the arms of the Divine Beloved”..
    I would have loved to have read this all those years ago, but since I believe we read things only when we are truly ready for them it is with joy and delight I read and embody this from you now.
    Thank you dear Marielena

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    • Dearest Karen, Thank you first of all for taking “time” to read my blog post and to respond. It is so thoughtful and gracious of you. But then, that’s who you are. I’m so sorry to hear the toll that caregiving took on you. I so understand this. We love the “other” so much we want to do as much as we can, but in my case, at least, I was “over-doing” until my body started to whisper, then scream at me, to REST. I had to listen. I tend to write about life experiences I’ve been through, at least to come from a space of authenticity. I’m so happy my words helped or touched you in any way, my friend. When that happens with the gift of writing I’ve been given, I feel truly blessed. Thank you again!

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