12 September 2014

Awakening :: Week 1

“It is never too late to be what you might have been.” George Eliot

In our contemporary times, we are so busy that some of us hardly take time to sleep. With the advances of technology, life is fast and very full. Primitive times offered a much slower, calmer pace with more natural opportunities for silence and solitude, in addition to hard physical labor, which is good for the body as well as the soul. Now with electricity we are less in touch with the natural rhythms and cycles of our days, months and years. We can stay up as late as we want with the aid and company of light bulbs, television, DVDs, iPhones, Xbox, Facebook and Twitter. If societies that came before us could see us, they might think we were a bunch of overactive crazies.

Cloaked by over-activity, a typical day in the life of many of us is marked with avoidance and escape. Busyness sometimes serves to help us evade the vulnerable places in our hearts that are wounded and afraid. Perhaps we numb the pain within by filling our lives with commotion and workaholism, we create a full social life to avoid the interior life, or we try to dull the ache by eating, drinking or exercising too much. Others do the opposite—in an attempt to avoid pain they suppress or control it by not eating and by other repressive behaviors. Indulgences of most kinds are often signs that we are avoiding or trying to escape our pain.

Sometimes we resist retiring for the day because it is on our bed at night that everything stops and we can no longer escape the voices in our head or the ache in our heart. The stillness and silence of bedtime is sometimes haunting rather than peace-filled. When we’ve used so much energy to try to avoid our personal turmoil, and we finally manage to reach dreamland, why would we want to wake up? Another day sometimes threatens us with more avoidance and sedation. And so the cycle continues: we live our days finding ways to sedate our woundedness and, if we’re lucky, we find an escape at night through sleep. Inevitably, though, it will be time to wake once again from our slumber and to attempt to live the chaos of another day. Day after day the morning comes and the gift of the hours is ours to receive. So we rise. After all, we do have a life to live. And if we remain in a state of perpetual sleep we might as well be dead.

Reflection

  • Take the pulse of your life. Are you living at a peaceful pace and rhythm or does life feel crowded, over-scheduled, anxious-ridden and exhausting?
  • If your life seems overly busy, it’s difficult to relax and it’s a drag to wake up, is there anything you’re unconsciously trying to avoid? Take a moment to sit with the question and notice any feelings, sensations, thoughts or memories that surface. You may want to jot them down to return at a later time for further exploration. Don’t worry about what arises. Just take notice, embrace it and ask God for the grace to deal with it in God’s time.
  • If you’re experiencing a balanced, peaceful life rhythm, take a moment to savor this grace. Notice how good it is. Notice the freedom and joy that arise from being grounded and centered. Give thanks.

photo credit: Jennifer Speight

10 Responses

  1. Nick M

    so true.. the George Eliot quote is so encouraging. Its never to late! thank you Phileena . So refreshing, so much hope, Speaks right to my heart.

  2. Rich

    How true your words are. We should all find time in every day to commune with our own awareness of who we are, why we are, and more importantly if we are not. The soul needs to rest, to gather itself from the turmoil surrounding it in this modern world. How nice it is, should be, to bathe in silence, whether in our own bed at night or in nature’s bed outside. Only by allowing peace in can its benefits be entertained and enjoyed.

  3. Such great thoughts Phileena! I like where you say, “Busyness sometimes serves to help us evade the vulnerable places…” It seems it is so easy to avoid and escape the natural rhythms of life. I am learning to not to numb my own pain, but to just let it be while welcoming it in silence and solitude. This has been healing for me as I desire to be an expression of love and compassion in my own context in the world.

  4. Alex Knight

    Sometimes even without being very busy, it is hard to fe still and Know God. You may be uncertain that if you were very still, you would actually know God. You may be uncertain that knowing Gopd is sufficient if your circumstances, your doubts, your self hates doesn’t change.

  5. Because I work retail, I work most weekends and holidays. Two weeks ago, I started being intentional about Sabbath rest. Tomorrow (Tuesday) is my Sabbath this week. From the time I wake up until the time my head once again hits the pillow, all I will do is play. No plans. No to-do list. No destination in particular. Just a journey without a map living from moment to moment pursuing smiles and expressing joy. And, yes, that journey will probably include a bicycle and it will probably include some precious time with friends. Laughing. Chatting. Listening. Lovingly caring.

    For one day a week, the clock of urgency will stop ticking. Precious. Refreshing.

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