I live in a town that has great street art. As we begin to emerge into differing degrees of lockdown (in the UK at least), this image came to mind. Both during lockdown and as we come out of lockdown, we need to pace ourselves.
It is a lifelong journey of learning what works and what doesn’t, seeking to balance the different elements in our lives. And it probably changes across different phases of life.
What matters is being the human being you were designed to be. Choosing to building in times ‘just to be’ is part of healthy living.
I often come across a quotation that stays with me and this happened last week. The quotation was ascribed to Leonard Cohen, poet and singer. And like many quotations, when I researched it I found it is actually ascribed to several people. This often happens with interesting quotations that are worthy of mulling!
Lyrics to the song ‘Anthem’ on Cohen’s album The Future include:
Forget your perfect offering There is a crack, a crack in everything That’s how the light gets in.
It’s a compelling mixture of pragmatism and hope.
Pragmatism. The world is cracked; society is cracked; we are each of us cracked. Perfection is beyond us. It is as it is.
Hope. We often associate light with hope. To me ‘light’ indicates something other, beyond the everyday of life and yet within the everyday. Something spiritual, healing, of goodness, divine.
I love the image of light shining out through the cracks. Light in the midst of darkness. Hope in the midst of a pragmatic acceptance of brokenness.
There is truth therein. It bears repeating. It’s worthy of mulling – or as we sometimes put it more commonly these days meditating on.
Life is such a mix: the everyday good and bad; the moments of joy and pain.
I am a Christian. With many other Christians around the world I am once again exploring the Easter story. Wow there is pain in the story. Wow there is joy in the story.
In the midst, there is love. It is love that makes sense of the pain and the joy. It’s a story of God giving his precious son (pain). Why? Because of love. And what for? For life (joy).
Regardless of whether we profess a faith or not, we may sense a truth in how love – mysteriously – makes sense of the joy and the pain. Somethings are beyond words – and mine are clumsy. In the midst, may you know love.
At any time, there is so much happening to each of us: physically, emotionally, spiritually. And some of it is tough stuff: things not as we would have chosen.
When we notice that things are not as we would have chosen – they are far from perfect – we recognise our vulnerability. We sense our pain; we see the wounds.
And that’s okay (it’s not something to be feared but rather acknowledged with gentleness). We are all vulnerable. We are imperfect and the world we live in is imperfect.
All is far from lost. As we accept our vulnerability and acknowledge pain, we might yet find beauty – something good – comes from it.
We are all chipped. We are all a bit wobbly. When we see this most clearly, we may be on course to find treasure, something beautiful.
It doesn’t make the journey easy but let’s keep looking not for perfection – for we will never find it (in this world at least) – but let’s keep looking for what is and as we walk, keeping an eye out for the beautiful.
A year into lockdown, it still feels that there are many different worlds. These are not based on the geography of where we live.
Rather the worlds are shaped by a myriad of things like the make-up of our household, the demands (or otherwise) on our skills and our time, our sense of financial security (or otherwise) – and most fundamentally the wellbeing – or otherwise – of ourselves and those we love.
We may not have any choice over the situations we are in, but we can learn to respond to them as skilfully as possible.
Learning how to pace ourselves in whatever situation we find ourselves is a vital skill. It’s a lifetime of learning.
Take a minute today, sitting or walking, to notice messages your body is giving you. Our physical make-up tells us so much, if only we will pause to hear.
Listen to these messages, with gentleness. Don’t judge yourself. Accept what you find.
Just by noticing – listening – you will be the wiser; you will be better equipped to approach whatever situation you find yourself in today.
And when we take a step forward in listening to ourselves, it may actually equip us to better hear other people. It may also equip us to recognise the voice of our creator in what we hear. We are wonderfully made, with feedback loops that tell us how to pace ourselves.
It’s an attractive place to be. None of us would probably claim to be there most of the time but we probably catch glimpses now and then.
Sometimes arriving at a place of peace isn’t a ‘non-doing’, resting process but one of action. Martin Luther King said, ‘True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.’
There are some things in life that we can do nothing to influence. When we accept this and let them go – as best we can – we may find peace.
There are other things in life that we accept as reality but also identify that we need to act – do something – to change them.
It’s a life’s journey separating the two, which is why Niebuhr’s serenity prayer remains relevant:
God grant me the serenity To accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; And wisdom to know the difference.
Join a virtual evening of mindfulness tonight 8 March 2021 at 7 pm (UK time) on the theme of acceptance and change. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Ever feel like you’re banging your head against a brick wall? I hope only metaphorically but frustration may get us close to the physical action!
We have a problem. We seek to find a solution. Again and again. Nothing seems to work and we still have the same problem – except we are now also tired. Tired out of trying to solve the problem.
This will sound counter intuitive but here goes. Accept the problem as it is – stop trying to ‘solve’ it (for a while at least).
What’s the benefit? A reduction in frustration, anger, stress . . . a saner self!
I experienced this with a telecoms problem I have last week: there was a moment I realised I had to accept the problem as it appeared I could do nothing to influence it. The acceptance brought me respite from constantly using my energy to try to bring about change. I still have a telecoms problem . . . but I am well in the midst.
Acceptance is an attitude that – surprisingly – changes things!
This is Mindful Monday on 1 March 2021. Join a virtual session of mindfulness on Monday 8 March 7-8.15 pm. Email email@example.com for details.