Over the past week, I’ve been revisiting poet and author David Whyte’s Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words. It’s a book that reflects on 52 everyday words and gently unpacks them to explore their complexity – words like memory, longing, loss and vulnerability.
The one I’ve been sitting with is rest. It feels fitting to have settled upon it as TCC embarks on a period of rest and reflection this month. Even as I say the word out loud to myself, there’s a slowing down of my heart beat, permission to relax into my chair, to let go and quieten. More importantly, to do so sans guilt. Whyte writes in this book: “To rest is not self indulgent, to rest is to prepare to give the best of ourselves, and to perhaps, most importantly, arrive at a place where we are able to understand what we have already been given […] To rest is to fall back literally or figuratively from outer targets and shift the goal not to an inner static bull’s eye, an imagined state of perfect stillness, but to an inner state of natural exchange […] we are rested when we let things alone and let ourselves alone, to do what we do best, breathe as the body intended us to breathe, to walk as we were meant to walk…”
Even as I type these words out, I’m struck by how much I struggle to rest in any real sense of the word in my daily routine. The chattering voices in my head say ‘do more’, ‘be more’, ‘crank up the machine and increase productivity’. A message that is emphasised in a hundred different ways on social media which urges me to read more books, learn a new language or make better use of this time in some way that appears busy and thereby denotes success.
Yet, my body tells me otherwise. That repose is found on Sunday mornings when I go to walk by the sea and stare into the sky. Sitting down, the sun warming my neck, back supported on a stone bench, a sense of quiet follows. It’s time without an agenda, nothing to do, nowhere I need to be and far away from my screen and the rabbit hole it often draws me into. Time that brings expansion and space, that rekindles dreams, hope and possibility.
In some ways, rest and being able to rest feels urgent in this moment. Panacea for the daily heartbreak that unfolds whether it is the normalised violence on display or the dismantling of the founding principles of the country. The act of choosing to be still and quiet just as critical to emerge again into the world, ready and able to give care and energy where it is most needed.
I hope that you find spaces for rest as you begin this month, and that it comes with much ease and beauty. We would love to hear from you on what the word rest evokes for you and how you practice it, so do write in to us or reach out on social media.