Today, I am taking a day of work-rest. With stacks of grading that are somehow not grading themselves, I asked to take this day off so that I could catch up to myself. It will not be a day of rest, exactly, but it will be restful. It will be at my pace, though I need to keep it moving so I get as much work accomplished as possible.
And it will be silence. Hours of silence. Me and the cats and the papers. No one needing anything from me except for an occasional head-rub. I need a mini-vacation from being needed. And it’s strange, when my work is words, when the spoken word is my favorite art form to observe and to do, that the rest that I crave is a break from speech. I long for this coming day of silence.
I have begun looking at the mini-breaks that I take in my day, trying to mark and acknowledge them and live into them, so that I can feel them as balm and not simply as escape. In that thirty seconds after the room empties and I need to head off to chapel, can I take three intentional deep breaths? Instead of walking down the hall to lunch, might I detour outside for a moment and greet the Three Magnolia Trees in the corner behind the old classroom building? Can I take three minutes of my prep period to listen to a piece of music every day? Or open my journal and do a five-minute word-dump or fast-write?
What if we were to try to see our moments, or breaks in the day, as little vacations instead of as escapes? If we were to intentionally stop and take breaths, make art, feel silence, listen to our heartbeats, put our feet on earth, commune with plant-beings? I think this will be my plan for the shadow journey ahead.
Gratitude List: 1. The earnestness of Lancaster people to resist injustice and to create compassion. Last night I attended a public meeting of Wing, a local group begun to try to develop community responses to the crisis created by recent immigration policies. The meeting was held at my church, and we filled the parking lot and the edges of the parking lot and the grassy spaces along the lot, and people parked down the streets and walked to the church. There is good energy in this community to do something to help those who are suffering as a result of this country’s harsh immigration detention policies. 2. Women in Black. I am heartened by this group of women who are committed to standing in protest of violence. Last night we stood with a sign proclaiming our solidarity with Kurdish women who are suffering in the wake of Turkish incursions. 3. Poetry and story. The weaving of words. 4. Yesterday, after I asked for today off, I felt such a release of tension and pressure. I’m grateful for understanding administrators and colleagues. I will be a much better colleague and teacher myself for having this day to breathe and catch up. 5. Dawn. The coming of light into the day.
Gratitude List: 1. The teachers and staff and administration at Wrightsville Elementary School. They create a safe and friendly community space in which the children love learning.
2. Hummingbird is home.
3. Friday’s really thoughtful Teacher Appreciation moments from a couple of students.
4. The passion of learning for oneself. Ellis knows so much about electricity, and he taught himself through Youtube videos. We bought him a breadboard and a knock-off Arduino and a Raspberry Pi for his birthday (I do not even know what those things are, really), and he’s just going to town creating ideas.
5. My memorykeepers.
This week, weaning myself from the keyboard, I jumped back into my handwritten journal-book, with pens and colored pencils, and the slower, reflective pacing of handwriting.
I have been dreaming and writing dreams, feeling the shadows of dreams flitting around my head even when the images and plotlines escape me. Vultures and daughters, bees and small children–the dream-symbols have been feeding me as I walk into the darkness of winter.
During the years when we were both farming full-time, when winter was truly a resting time, I think I had my most satisfying winters. I was able then to hibernate, to draw myself inward, to slow way down. Now in these years, when the days are so busy, and the evenings hold lists of necessary tasks, I lose myself a bit in winter. I struggle to focus in the outer world, but I don’t have the inner space to really slow down. Not really.
And so I am taking a bit of an Advent Break, shifting up my morning and evening routines, letting myself drift out of the social media spheres. It has been a good thing to take this break, to shift my habits. In the coming weeks between now and Epiphany, I will continue to make occasional forays onto this page, occasional steps into the world of Facebook, but I am going to breathe and rest and meditate and dream as I need to in these days, and hold myself to as few schedules as possible..
Blessings on your own Advent, your Dark Time, your Inward Journey. May your dreams be fruitful, and your visions be keen.
Gratitude List: 1. Shadows and darkness
2. Dreams and visions
3. Rest and Quiet
4. Joy and Peace
5. Waiting and Anticipation
I took this last summer with a mirror filter with my son’s camera. Angels everywhere.
Last night’s dreams don’t feel like any place to gather large and thoughtful ideas for the year, but here goes:
I got a ticket for parking my dune buggy in a handicapped space.
I spent a lot of time waiting for something to happen, in a bar, with someone named Conrad, a quiet and comfortable presence.
What looked like a dauntingly enormous tankard of beer was suddenly a quiet cup of steaming coffee in my hand.
Perhaps it was all a reminder to keep waiting, keep listening (like Conrad), accept responsibility for myself even when I don’t realize that I have broken the rules, remain temperate and awake.
Gratitude List: 1. The long Sabbath of Christmas Break, impending.
2. Answering well, then disengaging.
3. The way One Small Boy loves to make Christmas.
4. A life free of boredom.
5. All the creative ways in which people birth their dreams.