Deane's Blog

rest

living today

Deane Watters4 Comments

2016-02-25_0021There is nothing on my to-do list today. Not one thing is pressing. Normally my list is long, urging me to keep accomplishing something. Well, to be quite truthful, I do have a list. I always have a list! There is constantly work to do. I am never bored. I am never left twiddling my thumbs. But, today I have not written that list on my page that dictates to me how my day will go.

I could write. Yes. I could iron that pile on my ironing board. There is a bed that needs to be made. Next week's Writer's Circle has to be planned. The video for the Sunday School class I lead summons me. A run to Target is compelling. Some encouraging emails would be good. Booking a hotel for Tulip Time is proving to be impossible but it needs to be done. You know the gist.

But for today, I'm leaving the page empty.

I am surprised to find that an empty list feels a bit uncomfortable!

By not pushing myself in the usual way, might I feel discouraged at the end and think I accomplished nothing so therefore it was wrong and frivolous to waste it away?

Not sure how I will feel keeps me striving. Keeps me moving. Keeps me believing that rest is nonproductive and will leave me empty.

But I'm fighting that feeling today and instead remembering that rest is important for the soul. Quiet is essential to creativity. Days off replenish, they do not exhaust.

So, I ate a late breakfast, took Moby on an hour walk up to Bever Park, and am now deciding what to do next.

What do you find yourself doing on a day off? Are you comfortable with it? Do your feelings of good-enough-ness rise or fall in an unstructured day?

God made us to work hard. But he also made us to rest and restore so there will be life and energy for what really matters: creativity, relationships, self-care, a renewed faith, a well-rested body and mind.

Perhaps we all could look behind our incessant desire to push and stop letting it control our lives. Look up. The sky is actually blue today! The sun is visible above the houses, casting interesting shadows, and there is a calmness all around. If we need something on our list perhaps it should say:

STOP

LOOK UP

SLOW DOWN

ENJOY

Checking those off might feel pretty good at the end of the day.

 

 

what i want to say...

FaithDeane Watters1 Comment

2015-05-01_0001Today I am sitting at the library, my normal Thursday morning post, with my feet up on a little white table, computer on my lap. The huge window panes on my left enable a clear view of the cloudless blue sky watching over endless activity below. The pay loader bucket pounds diligently creating irritating noise and awkward piles of concrete. The four-way stop keeps vehicles braking  and accelerate through like clockwork,  orderly and polite. Finishing up their conversation, two men linger a bit longer before heading back to work. People walk in and out of the library, some on cell phones, other walking side by side. The day feels quiet, predictable, pleasant. This week my life has felt just like this day. After being sick, I'm walking more slowly, resting more often, breathing deeper and paying attention to how I am physically feeling; more mindful, I guess. I find myself paying attention and listening to the gentle nudges from within, rather than focusing on "what needs to get done." My interactions with women have been extremely meaningful as well.

Getting invited into people's lives is a wonder to me. One day I met with a gal to talk about spiritual things. The conversation was deep, thought provoking and encouraging.  Actually I'd say it was...amazing. I heard stories of God's faithfulness and the ways He was drawing her to himself.  Stories of my own found their way into our time together and wove beautifully the cord of his faithfulness to our longing to know and be known. One afternoon I met with a group of women who gathered to share their stories, eager to find healing and to connect with themselves and God in ways that the years have pulled apart. Raw emotion claws at their hearts: tears, anger, laughter, forgiveness, exhaustion emerge freely.  Today after meeting with a dear neighbor I came away so thankful to be a part of conversations that matter, that draw me closer my sisters and to the mystery we call God.

I guess what I really want to say is that we can get all so caught up in being "better" or "more" that we just plain forget to be delighted with what we have and who we are! We wake up with our to-do list in hand when perhaps waking with a sigh and a smile might just be enough praise, satisfied that the striving doesn't have to be a part of it anymore. We are loved. We are enough for the task we've been called to. We have now, this moment, to live fully. Eternity is a glorious destination.

This library, with its quiet noises and quaint outside scene provides me with the perfect reminder that I have the ability to ruin this moment with lists that shout and deadlines that loom; I do have a few. Or I can sit and muse on the beauty and grace of a quiet moment spent with peace and contentment for all that is good and grace for all that is not.

 

Plans for Lent

FaithDeane WattersComment

I was hyper-focusing today about how busy my life has been since Brian left 13 days ago. It is uncanny how many meetings, classes, appointments, visits, travel and studies I have been a part of in the past two weeks. Today was going to be full also.  All of this captured my attention completely so that my mind zeroed in on my to-do list the minute I woke up. Brian is my stabilizer. There is something about his steady, methodical way of approaching  life that is settling for me. Just a word from him, a point of view, some common sense bit of advice and I am happily on my way. On my own, I have a tendency to zoom in on things that would normally settle down after chatting with him. Sigh...I need the guy I guess. I'm so happy he is coming back...in 12 days.

Today sped by. Bible study at 9:30, short planning meeting at 11:00, lunch with a friend at 11:30 and then home. Get out the paper, make a list. Get out the vacuum cleaner, dust the floors. Get out the computer, answer emails. Then it hit me:

Today is Ash Wednesday! It is the first day of Lent and I was skimming right through it with nary a thought toward what it means and how I plan to observe the next 40 days.

2015-02-18_0001

Lent is a time in our year that we are invited into a deeper awareness of Christ's death and suffering. There are many ways to remember him and to commemorate his actions which will allow us to experience humility, awareness and deep thanksgiving during this short season. I have found an interesting website called 40 Ideas for Lent where many, from a variety of traditions,  have shared ideas about how they have observed Lent. Tonight I'm formulating my own forty day plan. Here are a few of my thoughts:

  • I plan to write, on the following questions, taken from 40 Ideas for Lent 2015:
  1. When I wake up on Resurrection Sunday morning, how will I be different?             What am I preparing for? 
  2. Is there something in my life—a habit, a sin, a grudge, a fear, a prejudice, an addiction, an emotional barrier, a form of excess—that keeps me from loving God with my heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving my neighbor as myself? How might I address that over the next 40 days?
  3. Lent is a time to listen to God, but sometimes God speaks through others, particularly the poor, oppressed, marginalized, and suffering. To whom should I be listening this season? How can I cultivate a listening posture toward others whose perspective and experiences might differ from my own?
  4. Is there a spiritual discipline—praying the hours, lectio divina, the examen—that I’ve always wanted to try?  How might I alter my daily routine to include one of these disciplines?
  5. The cycle of death and resurrection is central to the Christian faith. In what ways is that cycle present in my life right now? Where might there be necessary change, suffering, death and decay, and how might new life emerge from those experiences?
  • I am reading Found: A Story of Questions, Grace and Everyday Prayer by Micha Boyett, a tale about a young woman who realizes she has lost prayer after the birth of their first child. Here she tells about her determined journey back.
  • Every morning I will open the scriptures with She Reads Truth to join in their Lenten study. From the scripture and commentary, I will write to pray and process the truths I have encountered.
  • Inviting God to join me while I remain silent for 15-20 minutes each day will be a new practice as I move through these 40 days of reflection. What does God want to say? How can I know unless I am still enough to hear? What might these moments of rest in his presence reveal to me?
  • At breakfast time, Brian and I will read through a book edited by Nancy Guthrie, Jesus, Keep Me Near the Cross, a compilation of meditations by classic and contemporary writers and teachers that "will draw us into an experience of the passion of the cross and the power of the resurrection." After reading and thoroughly enjoying her anthology of Advent writings, we decided to read this Lenten collection.
  • In the next few days I might decide on a few other ways to observe this season.

What might you be doing for Lent this year? Have you found a way to more fully focus on the cross of Christ? Just think how joyful Easter could be after spending forty days in preparation. I would love to know your thoughts or plans for making this a special set-aside season.

Perhaps choosing to focus on Christ and his suffering, I will be less prone to hyper-focus on my own schedule, to slow down and grow in my wonder and amazement over what Christ's  death truly meant for me and our world.

Won't you join me?