I trust you had moments this week of feeling connected to your own aliveness as well as the aliveness all around you. I trust that you paused every now and again and had glimpses of the holiness found in the exact circumstances of your life no matter how mundane or chaotic they may be.
I trust you had moments this week of choosing rest, of listening to what your whole self is in need of. I trust you stared at something beautiful without thinking too much and that you closed your eyes and found the place inside that rests even in the midst of whatever is happening around you.
Aliveness and rest. . . movement and stillness. . . sounds and silence. . . our ongoing practices forge in us the wideness to make room for these polarities within us, our lives, and our experience.
Keep leaning into all of it,
Here the Readings from this week's pauses:
“We sometimes have the feeling that disciplines do not serve us well if they give us pain. Nothing could be further from the truth. I hesitate to call attention to the tired example of the athlete whose rigorous program causes … the pain of conditioning and stretching muscles; but the disciplines of the athlete, the financier, the musician, the student, are much easier to understand than those of [someone] who wants to climb a mountain in [themself].
Throw disciplines out when you have lost sight of your mountain. Throw them out when they wound you and make you unfit to climb. But cling to them when they show you what you must overcome to reach what is high in yourself.”
— Elizabeth O’Connor
"In the silent niche of the heart the lover experiences the truth that there is only one prayer that underlies all creation—the prayer in which the Beloved is present, not as a personal God or Creator, but as something both inexpressible and intimate. In this innermost recognition of the heart the lover recognizes the Beloved as something inseparable from him[her/them]self. And in these moments of absorption only the Beloved exists."
– Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, "The Prayer of the Heart in Christian and Sufi Mysticism"
“ I am alive”
One thing that we hear from the beginning in this work is that we are asleep. Those of us who have been studying over a period of time at last begin to see this for ourselves, but in the beginning we must take this statement on trust.
I am asleep when I imagine myself awake. What does that mean? At night when I sleep, I am unaware of the world around me, of my state, of all the fears, pleasures, etc. that fill my life and seem so important when I am awake. Strange unconnected dreams come to me. Sleep has been called “Death’s little sister.” Sleep is a little death, a temporary one. So when this teaching, and indeed all teachings, say [Human] is asleep even when [one] fancies [one]self awake what does that mean? How do I understand it?
One thing it means–and this one can easily verify–is that I do not know I am alive. Most of the time I do not know that I am alive. Very occasionally, just for a moment, by accident, I can know this with the whole of myself. An experience of great danger, of grief, of unexpected joy, of the immanence of God in Nature in a forest, by the sea, on a mountain, may make me tinglingly aware of the life that flows through me and everything else; but mostly I am desensitized, dull, dead, full of petty worries and anxieties, threatened by everything and totally unaware of myself or the world.
Today, take time as often as you possibly remember to stop for a second or two (it need not take longer) so that you can allow the thought in yourself: I am alive. Everything is alive, people, hills, trees, rocks. You should try to do this nonverbally if possible, but if necessary begin with the words. Feel your life, sense your life, and the life of all things. Everywhere I look all I see is life in many in various forms. The forms and levels are different, but life is the same and comes always from the same source.”
— A.L. Staveley, Themes I
My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird—
equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect?
Let me keep my mind on matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,
which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
that we live forever.
— Mary Oliver
Angels are wonderful but they are so, well, aloof.
It’s what I sense in the mud and the roots of the
trees, or the well, or the barn, or the rock with
its citron map of lichen that halts my feet and
makes my eyes flare, feeling the presence of some
spirit, some small god, who abides there.
If I were a perfect person, I would be bowing
I’m not, though I pause wherever I feel this
holiness, which is why I’m so often late coming
back from wherever I went.
— Mary Oliver
“REST is the conversation between what we love to do and how we love to be. Rest is not stasis but the essence of giving and receiving. Rest is an act of remembering, imaginatively and intellectually, but also physiologically and physically. We often hate ourselves for our procrastination, when it is often only the deeply disguised need to rest deeply enough to reconstitute and reimagine our approach. To rest is to become present in a different way than through action, and especially to give up on the will as the prime motivator of endeavor, with its endless outward need to reward itself through established goals. To rest is to give up on worrying and fretting and the sense that there is something wrong with the world unless we put it right; to rest is to fall back, literally or figuratively from outer targets, not even to a sense of inner accomplishment or an imagined state of attained stillness, but to a different kind of meeting place, a living, breathing state of natural exchange…
The ability to take real rest is almost an art form; strangely, almost a discipline: the discipline of putting things aside, especially putting aside the will, and the false self, supported by endless endeavour: this is not to give up on the will but to invite it back again as a good servant to the soul's desires instead of the heartless and exhausting task master it becomes when we push it to the leading edge of our identity.
— David Whyte