Relearning The Lost Art of Rest

 

20161117_123224.jpg

In another life, I rushed. A lot. Hurried to the syncopated rhythm of my own heart beat. Well actually it wasn’t that poetic or rhythmic, it was sort of messy and chaotic. I once described the feeling of living a rushed and hurried life as an overwhelming feeling of being chased. I missed a lot in the frenzy. Failed to document, notice or capture much of the beauty that was then, as now, a part of this marvelous world.

Now as I learn the art of rest and live into a life where moments and periods of long carved out times of rest are a way of life, I love to sing the song of rest. Cheer folks on to simplify and to find ways to restore and rest in the everyday.

Poetry helps. It is healing. A balm. Living a life which is increasingly marked by simplicity serves as a fulcrum. Placing rest and regeneration as priorities is important. Vital to a rich and fuller way of enjoying what God has created.

Reading poetry brings me to a slow place of pondering. Of viewing life through a poet’s eyes. Writing in a compressed form such a poetry, helps me to economize my words. Tell a story in a way that perhaps shows more.Teases out more. Challenges me to make art that evokes a response of yes, I see it that way or yes, me too. Or even, wow, I missed that entirely.

My friend Shelly Miller has spent months studying, documenting, reading and learning about rest. And most importantly,  listening to a community of women as they lean  into the Sabbath and Sabbath rest. This community is called The Sabbath Society.

20161117_123604.jpg

 

+++++++++++++++

I cannot give you the gift of rest per se, but I am giving away two copies of Rhythms of Rest written by my dear friend Shelly Miller. Shelly and I share a love of writing. We lived in the same smallish town for several years before Shelly and her husband H moved to London. Recently I heard her speak about the concept of Sabbath rest. I sat on the front row as she spoke in a Charleston church as part of her Rhythms of Rest book tour. Her message is life-giving and important. And her writing style is lovely.

For a chance to win a copy of Shelly’s book (I am giving away two copies) simply choose one of the following ways to enter. (US and Canada folks only, please)

One – Follow me on Instagram, @graceappears.

or

Two – Sign up to receive my free newsletter A Quiet Place For Words

Both my newsletter and my Instagram feed are increasingly becoming favorite place to write, make art and document the extraordinary ordinary in my world.

Three – Simply leave a comment on my blog and indicate you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Rhythms of Rest. Good luck. I hope you win. Names will be drawn on Saturday, November 19th,

(Shelly’s book is available for purchase at Amazon and at Barnes and Noble if you’d like to purchase a copy to give as a gift and to keep for yourself. As inspiration to hold rest up as a life-giving priority).

Be sure to visit Shelly’s website, Shelly Miller Writer dot com and follow her on instagram, Shelly Miller Writer too.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Beauty Of Repetition – A Story of The Bats

cropped-wpid-img_20140929_170447.jpg

Thank you for joining this journey of poetry, prose and photography. To follow the series click here for all posts in Postcards From Me — #write31days
Grateful to have you along on this 31 Day Writing Challenge. You breathe joy onto the pages here as you accompany me on this journey.

wpid-31small.png

The Beauty of Repetition – A Story Of The Bats
wpid-img_20140928_151229.jpg

Good Night Moon for the two hundredth time
Crispy fried chicken from the colonel from Kentucky
Hot macaroni and cheese
Orange or yellow, boxed, or home made
And a glass of cold milk at bedtime
Cheek on cold pillow
Rhythms and patterns, the labyrinth of life

++++++++++++++++++++

I start out to gather my words, herd them into a poem. They said, “no can do”. My words talk back to me. They can be headstrong like that. I know they won’t conform to my poem so I give them up and open the field of prose. Let them run wild and free.

I think they like it there sometimes where there is more openness, where it is wider, bigger more like South Dakota. A lot of space to stretch and breathe. And be the words they were created to be. With less fence lines and gateposts and cattle gates with locks.

Plus, it is difficult to write about bats in poetry. Unless you are Billy Collins or some other very creative and poet laureate-esq writer. Because the words, patterns, memories, recollections that have tried to form a poem have put their collective feet down and said “tell this in prose.” I assume your words talk back to you in a similar way.

She keeps telling the bat stories over and over again. And we laugh and feign misery and say”no not again, don’t tell the bat story.” And then we spell as if she can’t and say, here comes the b-a-t story again. Being a child and being an adult are not that dissimilar. Familiarity is comforting. And patterns are guideposts to our living.

Repetition comforts. Pattern calms. Tradition and customs and pilgrimages restore our souls with the balm of the familiar.

I walk to the spring and stop. Stare at the water trickling down. Measure with an invisible yardstick in my memory. Check to see if the water is coming from the spring in a rapid or slowing rate. Twenty something years of going to Wynne Lithia Spring and it’s new every single time. The beauty of repetition restores me. I stop and lose myself in the beauty of the spring. And remember my memories of this place. I have stockpiled them. Hoarded them. Hold them tight.

She asks me if I have read this book, the one in her hand, the one by Flannery O’Connor. And I say yes parts, until I realize it is a different Flannery O’Connor book. And I remind her of the author’s love of peacocks. Thinking we’ll discuss the short stories with tales of the peahens and peabiddies. And she said yes, “I see that now in technicolor on television.” And I haven’t a clue. Until I catch up with her mind and her world and where she has gone. She is not in the room. Her look is far away. Empty. Vapid.  And I am lost.

Dementia is a game player. One moment we are discussing Flannery O’Connor and the next she is remembering NBC’s early logo from the television of her youth. I go there, with her, in my mind. And follow this trail to her past. Where I learn. And revisit. And uncover. And secretly wonder about this place of distant remembering that she goes to brush off the dust and bring back a treasure from her past.

I was thinking of O’Connor’s beautiful peacocks, her beloved peacocks from her youth. Mother was thinking of NBC. As the crow flies, they aren’t that far away. You  must learn the language of dementia before you can communicate with it’s strange dialect. The nuances. The subtleties.

We cross our legs in laughter. Red faced and breathless. The bats came walking into the powder room one day as she sat there. Stunned. Amazed. Bewildered. And then they came from the bookcase during another time in her life. We zig zag through the stories of the bats. And where do all these bats come from. And why is there a series of unfortunate bat stories in this family. And aren’t we all a little batty anyway.

There are other “bat stories”. No not stories of bats. But ones she repeats. The stories of her youth and childhood. The ones that are emblazoned there in her mind. She grabs the photo album. We sit down side by side. And she shows me the pictures of us again. In Boston. I am two.

And I savor her narrative of this faded photograph album.

And listen to her telling of us.

As if it is the first time. Because like my visits to the spring. Her stories are always welcome and new. With an added piece of herself, folded into the telling. And if I listen with the ear of a child, I will walk away, wiser. Changed.

By the beauty of the repetition. And dementia loses another battle. And we are winners, again. We beat back the dark and stand in the light. And say “Wonderful story, mother. Tell us again.”

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
wpid-img_14659227963018.jpeg