I just switched off for a week. Well done to me (and the husband).
I’m fresh back from holiday, from 7 days of blustery beach walks and lie-ins, leisurely swims and horse-rides, cream teas and Sunday roasts (well, one of each), croquet, table-tennis and a lovely yoga class with the middle-aged ladies of Woolacombe. I have read books and gazed out of windows and slumbered and journalled. I have cooked hearty dinners and supped red wine. I have noticed birds singing (loudly) in the trees around me and I have stopped to look at views. I have learnt to reverse back along narrow country lanes to the nearest passing point.
If you want to do the same then head straight for the gorgeous Pickwell Manor in North Devon run by some great friends of mine: two families living in community together, trying to live sustainably and generously and to create a space for you to come and unwind.
I’m a big fan of rest, of building big blocks of it into life, of taking your foot off the accelerator and remembering that there is something more to life than ceaseless forwards momentum. Amazingly, and wonderfully, I find that it all keeps going without me.
Part of what I wanted to do this last week was wrench my attention from the future and sink it back into the now. I hate how I’m always about the next thing, always planning, organising, keeping things on track, rather than being fully present – and alive, and grateful – in the right now. I took with me the book Present Perfect by Greg Boyd to help. I love the imagery he uses from the Wizard of Oz – how we’re always looking for something which we already have:
You’re dreaming about what’s over the rainbow, in some mythical land of Oz, and this is the very thing that’s keeping you from experiencing the love and joy that’s already round you in Kansas.
He’s not telling me my life is already everything I ever want it to be, but that the things that matter most are already mine, so I can stop chasing them. Phew.
He writes about giving a talk along those lines to a youth group once, only to be challenged by a frustrated parent afraid that their child will never achieve anything unless they are driven; ambitious; feeling a lack that would need to be satisfied by attainment, success, whatever. A hole.
I don’t want to be driven by a hole in me. I don’t want to believe that the only thing that will drive my children to contribute to the world is their own sense of incompleteness.
What if I have enough, now? What if I am free, and loved, and worth something now? Can I believe that, not just on special holy days, but every day?
As I write I’m staying with friends who have a four year old son – a beautiful, exuberant, chatty little man currently making brownies with his mum. Playing cars with him yesterday uprooted me right out of my planned afternoon activities and what I was counting on accomplishing. And it was ok. It reminded me that real rest, and stopping, is only possible when we can let go of that drivenness, that neediness, and be ok just with who we are and where we are. Which is hard when we’re frankly so flawed and needy. I think it must be hard to get to that place without God (but maybe you have?).
Of course it’s all easier outside of London and all my normal routines, so I’ll get back to you about how it goes when I’m back.