Thursday, December 31, 2015

Rest Sweet Rest

“From the order of nature we return to the order — and the disorder — of humanity.
From the larger circle we must go back to the smaller, the smaller within the larger and dependent on it.
One enters the larger circle by willingness to be a creature, the smaller by choosing to be a human.
And having returned from the woods, we remember with regret its restfulness. For all creatures there are in place, hence at rest.
In their most strenuous striving, sleeping and waking, dead and living, they are at rest.
In the circle of the human we are weary with striving, and are without rest.”

Wendell Berry, “What are People For?”

Since last week, there’s been a lot of napping around my house.  My husband, my daughter and I have been encouraging each other to cuddle up in the blankies on the couch and pass out whenever the spirit moves us.  As I was standing on the hill above the barn this evening, I looked back at the lights glowing in our house and in the barn and felt a contentment that I haven’t felt in a long time.

In my twenties and thirties, living in New York City, I prided myself on being on the cutting edge of what was happening.  The pace was intense, and I had the stamina to go around the clock without any hesitation.  I remember a really exciting New Year’s Eve in 1980, traveling from party to party, from SoHo to the top of Central Park. At midnight, I was dancing wildly to Talking Heads in an apartment on Fifth Avenue when someone opened all the windows and turned off the music. We all stopped and watched as the road through the Park was filled with an endless river of people running in the annual 5K race.  The sound of those thousands of feet pounding the pavement was exhilarating. Someone standing next to me commented, “Here we go, racing into the next decade.”   Now, over 35 years later, I’ve lost my edge and if you find it, you can keep it.

It’s a funny thing about stopping after you’ve been racing around, exhausting yourself.  The idea of resting feels frightening at first, like you’re going to learn something that you don’t want to know.  My husband was spinning in circles, constantly coming up with projects that would keep him from succumbing to the alluring stillness of the couch, with its pile of soft pillows and velvety throws. At last, he gave in, and just this morning, after almost a week of frequent and random napping, I noticed that his personality was beginning to return to that of the man I married. 

My daughter has also begun to show signs of recovery from weeks of lack of sleep and the pressure of churning out term papers and finals. I caught her actually throwing the ball for the dog and playing with Stella in the front yard for a brief flurry of activity before they both returned to her nest on the family room couch. Stella is so happy to snuggle next to her girl, with her head snoozing on my daughter’s feet.

So, I wish everyone a peaceful New Year's Eve and a restful weekend. Good old David Whyte has a message that makes the most sense to me:  "Rested, we are ready for the world, but not held hostage by it, rested we care again for the right things and the right people in the right way. In rest we reestablish the goals that make us more generous, more courageous, more of an invitation, someone we want to remember, and someone others would want to remember too."

1 comment:

The Aging Pony said...

What a peaceful post - I agree, rest is so helpful to rejuvenate ourselves. If only I could find more time to rest!