A Reprieve from the Noise of Doing
by Katrina Kenison
“Solitude is the soul’s holiday, an opportunity to stop doing for others and to surprise and delight ourselves instead.”
You love your life and the precious people in it. Yet, suddenly, the very intimacy you cherish feels like a burden you can no longer carry. You want to see yourself as a person who is competent and sturdy and kind. But today you are able to be none of these things.
You can’t anticipate or meet one more need. You long for a conversation in which the only one you have to listen to is the small quiet voice inside, the voice that speaks without words.
You imagine what a relief it would be to spend a whole day without talking. You wonder if anyone else hits this wall of too much.
The hard, unforgiving place of feeling crowded and tired and overwhelmed. Of knowing you simply cannot accomplish all that needs to be done or live up to the expectations you’ve set for yourself.
You find yourself imagining solitude, craving it. And you think about where you might go, just for a little while, to privately fall apart and put yourself back together again, without causing anyone you love too much fuss or inconvenience.
The cabin door is sticky but unlocked, like a magic place in a fairy tale. The rain has washed away some outer layer you were ready to shed anyway. Solitude has always been your home territory. As darkness falls you feel lighter. Peaceful. Better.
In the morning, without any sort of plan, you walk up the road, going nowhere. The sun is shining and you are sweating and your legs are moving. Everything has its wonders. You are here to pay attention.
Alone, your life begins to feel like a choice again. You find yourself drawn into harmony with the sweet, easy flow of the day, unfolding according to its own rhythm. Slowly, something that was stuck deep inside begins to move. Surprised by tears, you lift your face to the sky and allow the sun to dry them.
There is the necessary, satisfying work of serving others in all the places where you are loved and needed. But there is also this: the soul’s work, which you ignore at your peril.
For today, you commit yourself fully to the journey of finding your own truth. The stillness of your mind behind the noise of your doing. The willingness to see the beauty inside yourself, and to honor that.
You are a little rusty and awkward in your quest. The privilege of solitude is a skill that requires practice.
At the far end of a field, a bench awaits under the shade of a tree. You sit and take in the view.
This, too, is a kind of compassion - - resting, listening, waiting in the silence of your heart to feel the next step. There is a new energy moving in you. A reverence.
You can do this. You can learn to be at ease here. To be grateful for these hidden treasures. In this secret, spacious place, you remember something beyond the moment.
The grace of God means something like:
Here is your life.
You might never have been, but you are.
Because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you.
Here is the world.
Beautiful and terrible things will happen.
Don’t be afraid.
I am with you.
~ Frederick Buechner
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