why should I worry or fret?
Rest is the conversation between what we love to do and how we love to be. Rest is the essence of giving and receiving; an act of remembering, imaginatively and intellectually but also physiologically and physically. To rest is to give up on the already exhausted 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 are there to put it right; 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.
The template of natural exchange is the breath, the autonomic giving and receiving that forms the basis and the measure of life itself. We are rested when we are a living exchange between what lies inside and what lies outside, when we are an intriguing conversation between the potential that lies in our imagination and the possibilities for making that internal image real in the world; 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, to live with the rhythm of a house and a home, giving and taking through cooking and cleaning.
When we give and take in an easy foundational way we are closest to the authentic self, and closest to that self when we are most rested. 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.
In the first state of rest is the sense of stopping, of giving up on what we have been doing or how we have been being. In the second, is the sense of slowly coming home, the physical journey into the body’s un-coerced and un-bullied self, as if trying to remember the way or even the destination itself. In the third state is a sense of healing and self-forgiveness and of arrival. In the fourth state, deep in the primal exchange of the breath, is the give and the take, the blessing and the being blessed and the ability to delight in both. The fifth stage is a sense of absolute readiness and presence, a delight in and an anticipation of the world and all its forms; a sense of being the meeting itself between inner and outer, and that receiving and responding occur in one spontaneous movement.
A deep experience of rest is the template of perfection in the human imagination, a perspective from which we are able to perceive the outer specific forms of our work and our relationships whilst being nourished by the shared foundational gift of the breath itself. From this perspective we can be rested while putting together an elaborate meal for an arriving crowd, whilst climbing the highest mountain or sitting at home surrounded by the chaos of a loving family.
Rested, we are ready for the world but not held hostage by it, rested we care again for the right things and the right people in the right way. In rest we reestablish the goals that make us more generous, more courageous, more of an invitation, someone we want to remember, and someone others would want to remember too.
REST By David Whyte
there are words strung together
in such beauty
lined up in perfect sequence
finally arranged in such a way
they touch secret places
of pain so hidden inside us
they have had no way of expression
they almost don’t exist
they are so deep
so shadowy scarred and twisted
so nameless I can’t acknowledge them
because they might possibly be a ghost
and why would I disturb alien creatures,
when there is quite enough pain
right here in plain sight
to try to heal and deal with?
until these thoughts appear,
the magical key,
and shadows become real,
in these words of another –
because the other
has wrestled and wrangled with…
and the words they have mined
from these dark, broken quarries
touch that wispy, pain-filled place
inside of me
with delicate fingers
and declare they are so,
they make them alright,
binding and healing
my shame-filled broken bones
my secret stab wounds
my almost too pain-full to be real
merely by sharing them out loud!
Suddenly, my soul says, aha!
And I breathe again,
and I lay down to rest.
Then roses in my heart
turn from blush to deepest crimson
and birds come and build nests in the trees,
which declare every moment that
Yahweh is always gracious,
and the morning wakes up
new and alive.
Then love burns seven times hotter
than I ever even thought possible
and I count gift after gift
of never-before-seen riches at my fingertips
as I step into a life
because I am beloved
because I understand myself better
and the meaning of,
It is what it is
the truth shall set you free
become my praise songs
because I AM
with every word
and I grin and say,
‘You aren’t much, my girl’
and I belly laugh…
because it is true!
and then I laugh even harder because,
truth is also,
I AM everything I need to be!