22 October 2017

My 16th anniversary as a missionary living in Kenya; "Solitude: Reprieve from 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.”
~ Katrina Kenison

There comes a moment. 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 or set one more thing to rights.

You want to wake up in silence and let things go their own way. You want to take a vacation from worrying and fretting and fixing. You want to take a walk at your own pace. 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 wonder if anyone else hits this wall of too much. The hard, unforgiving place of feeling crowded and tired and overwhelmed. Or live up to the expectations you’ve set for yourself. You find yourself imagining solitude, craving it.

You think about where you might go, just for a little while, to privately fall apart and put yourself back together again. You arrive at dusk in a downpour. 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. Already you are inhabiting your body in a different way - curious and raw, defenseless, hopeful.

Solitude has always been your home territory. 

You feel lighter. Peaceful. Better. In the morning, without any sort of plan, you walk up the road, going nowhere. Focus on today, you remind yourself. With every step you are clearing a space, coming closer to a self you almost forgot you knew. 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. You ride the gentle currents of sadness, regret, joy, longing, acceptance. 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. 
But there is also the soul’s work, which you ignore at your peril. 

And so, for today, anyway, you commit yourself to it fully: The journey inward to find 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 sit a while and take in the view, the gentle, slumbering hills, the drifting veil of clouds. This, too, is a kind of compassion - resting, listening, waiting in the silence of your heart. There is a new energy moving in you. A reverence. You can do this. You can dive down into the sacred quiet. You can learn to be at ease here. To be grateful for these hidden treasures in this secret, spacious place.

In a little while, you will walk the long road back. You will return home tomorrow a little different, still holding the hand of your wilder self, having touched for just a moment your own infinity.

Katrina Kenison
(Wife, mother, homemaker, writer, life-long reader, list-maker, recovering perfectionist, and inveterate seeker)

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