Keeping Deep

Would I have stopped and taken this picture months ago?

I wonder. There is a deeper noticing happening in my life. Is it happening for you also? Are the birds singing more? Or am I more attentive to their songs?

The whole planet is on pause. Well, except for essential workers. They are having a totally different experience. God bless them. And then there are families who are now working at home and raising children, being their teacher, activities director, etc. Their lives are even busier. But for those of us who are in this in-between world, with our daily activities curtailed, there are opportunities for reflection.

From my blog last autumn…

We are created to live in rhythms of activity and quiet. Our very biological template is that roughly a third of each day we need to forgo busyness and rest. We even use the expression, “I’m turning in, “as we toddle off to bed.

We are meant to live in this way, turning out and turning in.
Nature’s seasonal dance teaches us so much about living. If only we will take note of her lessons.”

Many of us have felt the need to slow down for a long time. It was a common theme of conversation. Surely, this is not what we had in mind. Now that we are held in place, can this be a time of deep reflection?

This is a retreat of sorts. Many of us have stepped away from our regular routines. On the retreats I offer, we also step away from our full schedules and spend time in contemplation. An important element in a retreat is what we take from the experience. That is true for this time also.

At the end of each retreat I ask these three questions. What will you keep doing? What will you start doing? What will you stop doing? These are good questions to ask as we are on hold. This is a time of of values clarification both culturally and individually. It’s a time to ask what really matters.

Mary Oliver’s poems ask important questions that always make me stop and ponder what I truly value. These words from her poem The Messenger are where I find myself these days.

The Messenger

My work is in loving the world…
Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young and still not half-perfect?
Let me keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,
which is mostly standing still and learning to be

Part of me is saying, “Don’t hurry to get back out there. Keep seeing these touching moments that are not available at 60 mph. That part says, “Stand Still. Keep your attention on what matters.”

When activities return, I will continue to let myself be moved by misty magnolia trees and a bird’s song. I will pause and let myself be carried away by nature. I’ll stop thinking getting my “to do” list done is so important. I’ll remember time writing, painting, creating or hanging out with Don is what truly matters. That is my work in the world.

Which bring us back to those three important question to consider when you leave this “retreat.”

What will you keep doing?

What will you start doing?

What will you stop doing?