The Living Mystery
By: Rev. Barbara Samuel
"It may be that when we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go we have come to our real journey. — Wendell Berry
Dear Spiritual Family and Community;
This is a tough share, but I feel a really important and a necessary one. Here I go…..
This has been the most humbling start to a New Year. When 2022 came around, I thought I was ready. I had a comprehensive plan. I was prepared and had filled my plate with all the things that fill and fuel me. It was full to the brim with new events and all sorts of projects, plans and ideas in every area of my packed life. I met a friend for tea the other day. This woman is a very wise, close friend. She is one of my elders, she’s a sage wisdom keeper, and one of my grounding forces. I feel extremely blessed to have such wisdom at my disposal!
While together, I shared this year’s plan with her.
She had just one question for me when I presented all of my plans, projects, ideas: “How does it feel to have such a load on your plate?” Immediately I realized that something was not right! I felt rushed, heavy, overwhelmed. Like my nervous system was activated to an 11 when the max is only 10!! A waaayyyy too familiar feeling! AND, I had just returned from a long vacation thinking I was good to go. Her advice was simple and clear: “You just need to stop. You just need to rest.” Rest comes from the latin restare, to remain in one place. My friend asked me to meditate with her. She told me to stop moving. I was restless. But within minutes, I allowed myself and I went back to stillness. At first, I admit, it felt like a daunting challenge as she watched me try to settle. And yet, at the same time, a huge relief to be held accountable for my personal wellness. What she was really doing was inviting me to turn inward and pause to tend to my exhaustion, to let go of directionality, of linearity, of achievement, of struggle. I could hear the silence calling me home. My inspiration, pressed between too much effort and consumption, was begging for an outlet so that it might pulse through me again. In the middle of this pause, suspended between my many tasks, like the body between inbreath and outbreath, I let go. I began to weep without expectation of what it meant and even how I felt. I was witness to the unexpected way that in that moment, I was completely cracked wide open. I had every answer to every question and every feeling of rest and wellbeingness washed over me.
Since my connection with my elder, I have spoken and shared this experience with so many colleagues, friends, students, associates and family. As it turns out, NO KIDDING -- every --- single --- person --- was feeling the same. In different ways, but exhaustion was at the forefront. Which in turn, created many other physical and mental effects and outcomes. Friends, I am committed to share this so we can converse openly and support each other. One thing that is working for me this week, is when I wake up each morning, instead of walking straight into my Google calendar, determined to get through my day, I remember to enter the living mystery inviting me to approach each moment with an open heart, a deep curiosity and a wakeful reverence. What a difference!
Now, I was already doing this, BUT…BUT I was not allowing myself to immerse in it completely. I was just doing the actions and going through the motions because there’s so much to get done. Do you know what I mean? I was doing the work but I wasn’t DOING the work! The highway to the future has exhausted us as we are looking in the rearview mirror of what wreckage is left behind, and what a challenging 2 years it has been. This time for me personally has distracted me. I know how to do the work, but I don’t want to do the work because it’s hard. Can you relate? And the “work” I’m speaking of is our personal expectations, demands, assumptions, promises and intentions. And it’s hard because we are tired. And we are tired because the cycle is exhausting. So, it’s easier to stay busy and remain distracted. We need to relearn to slow down, to allow interruptions, intersections, to reconnect with a world which doesn’t revolve around everyone else’s agendas. The landscape of rest calls us back to a mindful mode of stillness, solitude, and silence, where we can truly receive time and allow life to unfold through us.
So, dear friends, I wanted to write this letter to remind you too of resting, of slowing down, of feeling. This is not a luxury. It is our birth right, it is our lifeline. We are enough, because life is enough and whole. We can allow its fullness to carry us into our hearts from where we can flow with the river of existence.
So, 2022 started off with an incredible start! It will finish with an incredible ending! And I will have learned and remembered from this year to welcome 2023 with a rested body from the inside out. I am reminded without guilt or shame, to remember that the love offerings of the One will ALWAYS be there when we open to it. So rest up and get some sleep, and be ready to receive all that It has to offer with a calm, peaceful, easy, rested YOU! Love you all. And today, I give you the best of my rested self to you with love.
Reverend Barbara Samuel