Settling Into Restful Stillness
This year is a unique opportunity for us. We do not need to spend this week anxious about all the tension and expectations which come with family gatherings. Rather than worrying about all the traditions and regrets from past Thanksgivings, we can settle into restful stillness.
We do not need to concern ourselves with cooking the perfect turkey or stuffing, or preparing an unforgettable side dish. There is no reason to be nervous about the complexities of family conversations.
The best medical experts in the country tell us to stay at home, on our own, settling into restful stillness.
Thursday has the potential to be the most restful and relaxing holiday we have even experienced. Our world is entangled in a virus which is potentially deadly. Our most effective response is to stay home, possibly even stay in bed, and spend the day in restful stillness.
On Thursday we can have the most contemplative holiday we have ever experienced.
Those of us who find cooking restful can prepare something to eat. There is no need for us to get ready for all the pain and suffering of Black Friday sales. We can stay in bed reading books, or spend our day watching a fire in the fireplace.
This could be a Thanksgiving we truly spend being grateful.
I hope to extend this year’s Thanksgiving a few days before and after Thursday. The more time we can spend in restful stillness this week, the better for us.
This year has been filled with stress and disappointment, pain and loss, for many of us. Our holiday this year is an excellent opportunity to settle into restful stillness and spend some time resting and healing.
Are we ready for some restful stillness this week?
Exploring Restful Stillness
All around us the world is telling us it is time to rest.
Daylight is shorter each day, and the nights grow longer. Temperatures are cooler, even here in southern California.
It is as if all of life were encouraging us to slow down, take some time, rest and reflect. Wrap ourselves up, start a fire in the fireplace, take a well-earned nap.
Some of us would usually respond to this natural call by entering into an extended time of activities demanding our attention.
The “holidays” would usually have begun months ago, with “back to school” and the “end of summer.” We would ramp up through September and October, and by now be hurtling toward the end of the year. Each special day would carry its own traditions and expectations; each year we would try to surpass and add to the memories of the past. We did not want to miss anything.
I am hoping to start a new tradition this year and develop it in years to come, a tradition of exploring restful stillness.
I know it will be a challenge, like swimming against the tide.
Rather than adding new things to do each year, for each holiday, I hope to spend my holidays in restful stillness.
Many of us are eager to take a vaccine which will get us back to normal, back to the way we used to be. I think this year may have some truths to tell us, some lessons to teach us. There may be ways we need to change the ways we live, even on holidays.
We might not want to spend all our holidays in restful stillness, but this Thanksgiving is a good opportunity to explore.
As we listen to what the stillness has to tell us we find healthy, restoring rest.
Finding Restful Stillness
Our first step toward finding restful stillness is deciding we intend to settle into it.
We commit ourselves to seeking the sacred stillness we talk about wanting to find. A holiday away from other people, isolating ourselves to stay healthy, could be a good excuse to begin.
Planning and preparation are important. We can avoid distractions which affect our ability to rest by recognizing and anticipating them. What usually gets in the way of our listening to sacred stillness? We can organize our schedules to give us time for restful stillness.
It will help us to examine our own expectations, and those of other people, carefully. I may be wrong, but I doubt the social order of the world will not survive without us to manage it for a day or two. It is not a matter of our simply being selfish. We will be healthier, spiritually and physically, after a day or more of restful stillness.
When we have prepared things to spend a day or two listening to stillness we are ready to begin.
We sit, or lie down, comfortably. Closing our eyes, we begin to breathe deeply. The stillness wraps its arms around us.
The Healing Power of Restful Stillness
In my experience, settling into restful stillness generally helps me be grateful more than eating a big meal. Taking time to reflect, to rest, to think about nothing gives my heart an opportunity to catch up with my mind.
My mind tends to race ahead looking for problems to solve. Listening to sacred stillness helps my mind slow down so my body and my heart can be whole.
Each of us needs to take time to be whole. It may have been a while since we experienced wholeness. Settling into restful stillness could be a way for us to spend a holiday being whole.
This year has worn us down. Thursday can be an opportunity for us to begin finding the restful stillness we need.
I intend to commit some of my holiday to listening to sacred stillness. Please join me in taking time for rest and restoration.
Every one of us has time on Thursday, and every day, to seek the restful stillness we need in our lives. Take the first step.
How will we begin to settle into restful stillness this week?
What will be our first step toward restful stillness today?
[Image by liber(the poet)]
Greg Richardson is a spiritual life mentor and coach in Southern California. He has served as an assistant district attorney, an associate university professor, and is a lay Oblate with New Camaldoli Hermitage near Big Sur, California. Greg’s website is StrategicMonk.com and his email address is StrategicMonk@gmail.com.